Free Compost for Life
Collecting fallen leaves and making leaf mould is rewarding, environmentally friendly and very economical.
‘Never look a gift horse in the mouth’. For the gardener, at this time of year, that well known phrase is particularly appropriate. As long as our deciduous trees continue to produce leaves and as long as we have autumn (by no means certain in this time of climate change) there will always be an opportunity for gardeners to produce their own compost with little or no cost. Your seed and potting composts and soil improver for years to come are literally falling from the skies at this time of year.
Home-made leaf mould is an excellent alternative to peat based composts. It has been used for germinating seeds, it makes an excellent potting compost and if you have poor freely draining soil or heavy clay soil that is heavy and difficult to dig, leaf mould also has a role as a soil improver.
If you make your own leaf mould you can also feel proud about doing your bit for the environment. The dwindling peat bogs where peat has been extracted for use in composts provide important habitats for a wide range of wildlife; all under threat every time we purchase a bag of peat based compost.
Making your own leaf mould takes time but it is worth the wait. It is best to compost leaves separately from other garden waste as they do take longer to decompose. A good quality leaf mould can be produced in 18 months to 2 years.
The best system to use for making leaf mould is to construct a simple walk in bins from wooden posts and chicken wire. You need to be able to walk into the bin as it is necessary to trample and compress the leaves on each occasion you add more leaves. This speeds up the rotting process.
Watering the pile of rooting leaves in dry weather also speeds up the process. The open nature of the chicken wire allows rainwater and air to penetrate the pile and help with the breakdown of the leaves.
Give it a go, in a couple of years time when you are rubbing that wonderfully crumbly, high quality compost between your fingers you will be very pleased that you did not send those leaves off to the local council tip.