A leaf mold is what we can commonly refer to as composted leaves. A leaf mold is made up of piled-up leaves. These leaves are intentionally allowed to sit for a while. This allows the natural forces to break down the leaves to compost.
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Leaf mold is considered adequate as an enrichment of the soil for planting.
This is a common practice for people in areas abundant with tree leaves. Some trees shed leaves during different seasons. The gardener can choose to throw away the leaves. But the beneficial choice is to make a leaf mold.
How do you start a leaf mold pile?
There are three main steps to starting a leaf mold pile/
- Collect leaves
- Prepare a leaf bin
- Pile the leaves in the bin
The first step to starting a leaf mold is to collect leaves. The leaves can be from different trees, depending on the location. These leaves are gathered in a pile. You should stuff as many leaves as possible in one pile. But it has to depend on the size of your bin.
It is good to look out for different leaves for the pile. This allows for other properties included in the leaf mold.
It also ensures that the breaking down process is made more accessible. Leaves can be at different stages of drying up. But green leaves are not recommended for a mold pile.
The next step is to add water if you are using dry leaves. This is the moistening stage. The moistening can be done several times in the entire process. Turning the leaves many times is recommended. But may only apply to some bins.
It is time to look for a good location for the leaf pile. The location should be somewhere in the open. This allows the natural processes, including rain and the sun, to affect the pile. It also leads to quicker breaking down of leaves.
A leaf mold can be stored in a bin. This can be a bin made up of plastic or metal. But the best is made up of mesh. It creates more space for decomposition.
There are leaf molds made of bags. But these ones require extra effort. Holes have to be pierced on the bags.
Where do you put leaf mold bins?
A leaf mold bin is recommended for well-prepared leaf molds. This is usually a self-made meshed-up bin. Some bins can be bought from stores, but making your own is good. It takes into account important factors such as the size of your garden.
Putting the bin in the garden corner is recommended. This frees up space for other garden activities. The location should be in the open.
It has to access both rain and sunlight. Avoid placing the bin near a home. It can be a health hazard, especially for children.
It is recommended that you leave the mold for a more extended period. The pile should not be disturbed for some time. It can distract the breaking down process of leaves. Some bins can be permanently installed. But others work well when they are movable.
Does leaf mold need air?
Air is an essential element of decomposition. The leaves break down when exposed to a combination of different weather. But air plays a critical part in the breakdown. Air supports the fungal and microbe’s activities.
But there is a need to include moisture in the mold. A combination of air and moisture supports the decomposition. That is why it is recommended to have a leaf mold outside. The leaf bin should be covered only partially.
The more the air and the moisture, the quicker the breaking down of leaves. But the moisture should be regulated. To prevent rotting of leaves.
The leaf mold regulates air intake naturally. This should be something other than the worry of a gardener.
Advantages of leaf mold
There are several advantages of using a lead mold. This includes:
- Compresses the soil structure.
- Increases the soil’s water-holding capacity.
- Contributes to healthier soil life.
- Provides minerals in the soil.
- It can be used as mulch in a garden.
Leaf mold is mainly recommended for sandy or clay soil. These are soils that have a weak structure. The goal is to improve their water-holding capacity.
The idea is also to improve soil aeration. The nutrient increase is also a major driving factor in using a leaf mold on these soils.
Gardeners need mulch for water retention in the garden. The leaf mold can equally serve this purpose. It is even better than fresh leaves. It can provide essential nutrients for the soil. This makes it easier for absorption in the soil.
Leaf molds introduce important fungi to the soil. It attracts soil critters in the soil. Among them include centipedes that help with soil aeration. Some critters are also crucial in the garden. They act as predators of garden pests.
Disadvantages of leaf mold
The main disadvantages of a leaf mold include the following:
- Length of time to prepare
- Unfavorable weather conditions
- Too much work involved
- The risk of disease spread
The time it takes to prepare a leaf mold may be extended. Some gardeners may need more patience to wait. A leaf mold can take more than a year to create. It is not a walk in the park for some gardeners. It may also provide more immediate benefits than expected.
Preparing a lead mold may be too much work. Sometimes it may seem like it could be better. There is also the issue of space. It requires one to have suitable space to place the bins. There may be better ideas for small gardens.
Preparing a leaf mold can also only satisfy if done correctly. The leaves can easily fall off if no mesh is installed around the bin. A gust of the wind is a significant threat to leaf piles. It can take a lot of work to maintain the leaf piles.
Not all leaves can be suitable materials for making leaf mold. Some leaves decompose slowly. They tend to take longer than others. The leaf mold may need to be more evenly prepared and ready for use.
Preparing leaf mold is also dependent on many natural factors. Sometimes these factors may not favor the preparation process.
The preparation time is dependent entirely on how much a season lasts. There is a chance of a low success rate for extended winter seasons.
Experts have also warned about the spread of diseases linked to lead molds. They argue that beneath the soggy leaves are harbored diseases. These diseases come to life after the cold weather. They may be a threat to plants when used for soil improvement.
Does leaf mold need sun or shade?
The sun is an important element of leaf decomposition. It is said that a leaf mold decomposes faster when piled in the open. Cold weather or shades slow down the decomposition process. But hot weather is favorable to speed it up.
But it is also necessary to turn the leaf pile. This allows for the leaves underneath to access the sun. The regularity of turning is not standard. It can be done to the liking of a gardener. Turning also aerates the leaves. It makes the leaf break down faster.
Exposure to much heat is not recommended. Too much heat causes the drying up of leaves. It is recommended that you add moisture regularly. The combination of moisture, sun and air works magic.
Leaves to avoid when making leaf mold
Not all leaves are good for making a leaf mold. But almost all leaves break down to compost eventually. The difference is the time that the leaf mold takes. It is essential to avoid leaves that can take longer to decompose.
It is recommended that you avoid large evergreen leaves in the leaf pile. Needle-like leaves should also be avoided in a pile. They may not decompose faster and pose a risk to the gardener.
Some leaves are too large in shape. They can easily be avoided when selecting for piling. But such leaves should be shredded before piling.
It makes it easier to stack and decompose. Other leaves cannot be stacked together with others. These are leaves, which slow decomposition.
Any leaves that are known to carry diseases should also be avoided. A gardener can tell by the physical look. But it isn’t easy to understand for already dried-up leaves.
Where you collect the leaves should be of concern. You can quickly see whether they are suitable for your leaf mold.
Can you add coffee grounds to the leaf mold?
Experts have found it beneficial to add coffee grounds to compost or leaf mold. They can be used as a base layer for a leaf mold. But the coffee layer should be thin. It should be a secondary focus of the leaf mold pile.
There are cases where coffee grounds are viewed as acidic. They may affect the soil composition negatively. They can be a danger because they inhibit plant growth. Expert advice is required to decide whether your leaf mold can do better with coffee grounds.
What to consider when making a leaf mold
Remember that a gardener is at liberty to decide on the type, size, and shape of their leaf mold. It is also essential for the gardener to look for more information about using leaf mold bins. This makes preparing the leaf mold for your garden easier and more efficient.