Here is a terrific bit of info from the Urban Garden Project folks!
Thanks for sharing!
Carey and I just spent a lovely afternoon cruising about town picking up all those leaf bags on the curb sides. We met some lovely ladies excited to know that their leaves were going to improve community garden soil and got a bit of sunshine on our faces in the process.
Seeing all those bags full of leaves, ready to be trucked away on garbage day got me all riled up to let everyone know what a great resource leaves are for our gardens! Leaves make great mulch, you can just put them on top of your soil, nice and thick and they will protect your soil and all its nutrients, over the winter months. (Mulch can also be used in the summer around growing plants to keep your weeds down and moisture in.)
If you have a yard of your own, or are working in a community garden, don’t forget to have a spot in your garden to pile the leaves and make some leaf mold. Leaf mold is essentially just well rotted leaves, it is an amazing soil conditioner, its biggest attribute is it holds moisture like nobodies’ business (leaf mold can hold 500% of its weight in water!). This makes it a great substitute for peat moss and a great addition to soil for those of us who don’t get out to water every day. It also supports important little organisms in your soil, increasing your soil health and making nutrients available to our plants, a must for any organic gardener.
How To Make Leaf Mold:
1. Collect all your leaves and put them in a big square pile (think at least 4 ft by 5 ft.) 2. If you have a lawn mower, run the leaves over with the mower to shred them, this will greatly quicken the decomposition process. If not, just pile ’em up anyways.
3. Make sure the pile is moist, you may want to cover it with a tarp to keep the moisture in if it is drying out.
4. If you want some extra work, or a faster result, give it a turn every now and then, keep an eye on the moisture etc.
5. If you want to make the pile hot you can add some fresh manure.
6. If you want to add some nitrogen to the pile add some “green” material such as grass clippings, spent hops from your local brewery or coffee grinds from the neighbourhood cafe.
Just remember to add these additional materials in layers with the leaves.
Then you just need to wait. Leaf mold can take anywhere from 6 months (with shredding, manure, moisture, turning etc.) to 2 or 3 years (just pile ’em and leave ’em method). So it’s good to do it in an unused space in your garden and make a new pile every year so you’ll have a continuous supply.
Go get those leaves and put them to good use! (Don’t forget to wear your mittens.)
Happy Collecting, Garity