Leafmould is produced from decomposed autumn leaves that are left to rot down in a container that allows air to access the leaves. It is dark brown-black and has a nice earthy smell. It has a crumbly texture, very much like compost. You don’t need to add other organic materials, such as kitchen waste - just the leaves!
Leafmould is essentially a soil conditioner. According to some studies, adding leafmould increases water retention in soils by over 50%. It also improves the soil structure and provides a fantastic habitat for earthworms and beneficial bacteria.
1) Collecting leaves
To collect the leaves, you can rake them up into a pile, or set your mower on a high cut setting and mow them up, making sure to add the grass collector to the back of the mower. This mulches them up for you. If you happen to get any grass clippings, that’s fine and they can also add some nutrients. You can also just use your hands!
Tip: Why not go out in your local area and pick up fallen leaves from public places!
Tip: If you don’t have lots of weeds, then collect what you can and add them to your garden compost bin, with your other waste.
2) Leafmould containers
Now you have collected your leaves you need to store them in a container. One of the most basic leafmould container methods is to put the leaves in a black bin bag, pierce the bag to let air in and leave them for up to 2 years. If the leaves are very dry, moisten them before putting them in the bag. Finally, loosely tie off the top of the bag.
You can also create your own container out of pallets, or just wire. Make sure the containers have lids and are placed in a sheltered spot so the leaves do not blow away.
Tip: To speed up decomposition you can add some coffee grounds or urine :)
3) Using your leafmould
If you leave your leaves rotting for 2 years or more it can be used as seed-sowing compost or mixed equally with sharp sand, garden compost and good quality soil for use as potting compost. You can also use it as a mulch, or dig it into your borders as a soil improver.
Leafmould that is less than two years old can be used as a mulch, soil improver, autumn top-dressing for lawns, or winter covering for bare soil.