Monty Don shares ‘easiest’ way to make garden leafmould – works ‘perfectly well’11/06/2021
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November is a great time to make leafmould because it is the month where leaves continue to fall. Sharing advice in his latest blog post, Monty Don shared the best ways to make it.
He said: “Keep gathering fallen leaves, mowing them, keeping them damp and storing in a bay or bin bags to make leafmould.
“Leaves decompose mostly by fungal action rather than bacterial which means that dry leaves can take an awful long time to turn into a lovely, friable, sweet-smelling soft material that true leafmould invariably becomes.
“So either gather leaves when they are wet or be prepared to dampen them with a good soaking before covering them up with the next layer.”
Collecting wet leaves also helps to chop them up, helping them to decompose.
Monty added: “The easiest way to do this is to mow them which also gathers them up as you do it.
“Of course if the leaves are too wet they will clog the mower up so I try and sweep and rake them into a line when dry, run the mower over them and then give them a soak with the hose when they are in the special chicken wire-sided bay.
“If you don’t have room for a dedicated leaf bay then put the mown leaves into a black bin bag, punch a few drainage holes in the bottom, soak them and let it drain and then store it out of sight.”
The expert said that this system also works “perfectly well”.
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Monty added: “Either way the leaves will quietly turn into leafmould over the next six months without any further attention.
“You can also use them in spring in a half-decomposed state, as a very good mulch around emerging plants.”
Mulch can help to suppress weeds and improve the soil around plants to help them grow.
It can also give the garden a tidier appearance as well as reducing the amount of time spent on tasks such as weeding.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) recommends gathering leaves from quieter spots to avoid atmospheric pollution.
This includes personal garden spaces or public parks.
The RHS added: “Leafmould heaps can become infested with weeds, so use the resulting product cautiously, avoiding formal areas of the garden where weeds would be a serious problem.
“Street leaves may be contaminated with litter and rubbish, so make sure to sort through the leaves before adding them to your leafmould pile.
“If your leafmould pile is slow to break down into leafmould, try turning it regularly to aerate the leaves and speed up the breakdown process.
“Make sure that the leaves do not dry out, moistening the pile if necessary in hot, dry weather.”
Leafmould that is more than two years old is considered to be “good quality” and can be used as seed-sowing compost or garden compost.
When it is younger than two years old, leafmould can be used as mulch, soil improver, autumn top-dressing for lawns or winter covering for bare soil.
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