Leaf mould is a great organic method for creating homemade compost. It has a rich earthy scent and a crumbly compost texture. As the autumn/winter garden is usually covered in fallen leaves, it just makes sense to use this seasonal gift of nature to make homemade compost. Most leaves can be used to make leaf mould; however, it is worth noting that most leaves break down at a varying rate. Oak and alder rot down faster than sycamore or chestnut. Evergreens and conifers can take up to two years to rot down.
There are a few methods to making a leaf compost, ranging from raking leaves into a pile, covering with tarpaulin and leaving it to rot down to creating a leaf bin made from pallets. Smaller gardens can also benefit from making leaf mould by collecting the fallen leaves in bin bags.
The Bin Bag Method
- Place the raked-up leaves in a black bin bag. (I like to save compost and potting soil bags to use also).
- Pierce a few holes in the sides and bottom of the bag, for ventilation and drainage.
- When the bag is full, spray with a little water and tie the bag off.
- Store in a shaded, preferably dry area.
- The following autumn the leaves will have rotted down and can be used as mulch.
This method is ideal for the smaller garden where space to build a purpose-built leaf mould compost bin is limited. If you have a large garden with a lot of fallen leaves, the traditional method of creating a leaf mould bin using chicken wire could benefit you more.
Traditional Leaf Mould Compost Bin
- Hammer 4 wooden stakes into the ground, to make a 2-3ft square frame.
- Unroll chicken wire and attach to the 4 stakes.
- Fill the bin with leaves.
- Moisten with water.
- Cover with a tarp or plastic sheet.
This method will take longer to compost down due to the size and amount of leaves. It is possible to speed the composting process up by shredding the leaves down to smaller pieces.
Leaf mould compost is a great organic way to improve soil condition, increase water retention and creates the perfect habitat for earth worms and other beneficial garden insects. Homemade leaf compost is also ideal for using as potting compost for seedling and propagating due to the fine texture of the compost and it is free draining.