Rake Up a Leafy Conditioner

Leafmold is one of the finest soil conditioners and makes excellent use of a resource that's free and abundant in autumn: fallen leaves. All you need to make leafmold is a plastic bin liner, leaves from deciduous trees and lots of patience.

Rake Fallen Leaves

Rake Fallen Leaves

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

When to Start: Autumn
At Its Best: The following autumn
Time to Complete: 1 hour

Materials Needed:

  • a rake
  • leaves
  • plastic bag
  • hand fork
  • watering can

Rake Up Fallen Leaves

When leaves start to fall in autumn, rake them up. For larger supplies, collect leaves from local parks or woods, but do not use those close to main roads.

Place in a Plastic Liner

You can make a leafmold bin, but a plastic trash can liner works just as well, and has an added advantage, which is that it can be kept in a small space, such as behind a shed. Put leaves into the liner, pushing them down as you go.

Leafmold Liner

Leafmold Liner

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Sprinkle With Water

As you pack the leaves in, occasionally stop and sprinkle them with water. Wet leaves will rot down much quicker than dry ones. Keep filling and wetting until the bag is full. One bag of leafmold won’t go very far, so try to collect enough leaves to fill a few bags.

Combine Leaves and Water to Make Leafmold

Combine Leaves and Water to Make Leafmold

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Tie Bag Securely

Your bag is going to be left for a long time, so make sure you tie it well. This will prevent small creatures from making a home in the leaves.

Tie Bag Securely

Tie Bag Securely

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Punch a Few Air Holes

Leaves also need air to rot down efficiently, so punch some holes in the sides with a fork. Put the bag away and forget about it for at least a year.

Making Leaf Mold

Making Leaf Mold

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Tip: Using Leafmold

After a year or two, your leafmold will be ready to use. It works particularly well as a mulch, and is especially loved by woodland plants. Alternatively, it can be sieved and used as an ingredient in potting soil.

Leafmold Ready After Two Years

Leafmold Ready After Two Years

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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