Mold Gold

Decaying Autumn Leaves Feed Summer Gardens




LilKar/Shutterstock.com

In many parts of the U.S., autumn brings fallen leaves, and the benefits of composting can be extended via leaf molding. “You get new leaves every year. You don’t need to take leaves to a landfill or burn them,” advises Lee Reich, Ph.D., a garden and orchard consultant in New Paltz, New York. Digging or tilling leaves into garden beds and containers, using them as mulch, fosters natural soil conditioning, supplies beneficial nutrients and enriches earthworm habitat. PlanetNatural.com estimates that 50 to 80 percent of tree nutrients end up in their leaves.

According to FineGardening.com, “Leaf mold prevents extreme fluctuations in soil temperature, keeps the soil surface loose so water penetrates easily, retains soil moisture by slowing water evaporation and stimulates biological activity, creating a microbial environment that helps thwart pests.”

One method comprises piling leaves in a corner of the yard or in a wood or wire bin at least three feet wide and tall. Thoroughly dampen the entire pile and let it sit, checking the moisture level occasionally during dry periods and adding water if necessary. Another option is to fill a large plastic bag with leaves and moisten them. Seal the bag, and then cut some holes or slits for airflow. Check every month or two and add water if the leaves are dry.

Either way, the decomposition process for most leaves can take six to 12 months; DIYNatural.com reports that some leaves, like oak, can take up to three years to decompose. Hasten the process by mowing the leaves a couple of times before adding them to the pile or bag; turning them over every few weeks with a shovel or garden fork; or covering the contained pile with a plastic tarp to keep the leaves wetter and warmer.


This article appears in the October 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

FLORIDA'S WEED WOES

The still-evolving landscape around medical marijuana has a lot of Floridians asking questions. No worries—we have (almost) all the answers.

Local Chiropractor, Dr. John Stephan Kovar, Leaves Lasting Legacy

The Natural Awakenings family lost a great and kind soul with the January 5 passing of Dr. John Stephen Kovar. A Fort Walton Beach chiropractor for more than 36 years, he was devoted to natural health care and the ultimate wellness of his patients.

Kids and Kritters Parade Adds Pre-Parade Dance Show

Krewe of Wrecks, Pensacola Beach’s original Mardi Gras krewe, will host the Kids and Kritters Parade February 23 in the Casino Beach parking lot, across from Sidelines on Pensacola Beach.

Free Workshop Focuses on Backyard Homes

After decades of decline, the City of Pensacola is growing and changing, leading to concerns about housing supply, diversity and affordability.

Zen Facelift Facials Now Offered in Pensacola

Esthetician Susan Blanc is now offering Zen Facelift Facials at her office in Pensacola. Blanc recently trained in this noninvasive skin care technique, which uses massage to “awaken” the facial skin and activate its natural ability to rejuvenate.

Add your comment:

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT