Ever since I stumbled across my friend’s dad’s pile of leaf mould, I’ve been in love with the stuff. ‘That’s leaf mould,’ I said, eyes wide and jaw on the floor. ‘All of it?’.
Yep, Leon’s dad had years upon year of leaves from his oak trees just piled up in the corner of the garden. And the whole lot was free to anyone who wanted some. I’d heard people talk about how wonderful leaf mould was, so I had to help myself to a few bags.
Initially, I used the mould as part of my homemade potting mix. I loved the texture as it ran through my hands, in that way only a gardener knows.
Gradually, I’ve collected more and more of Leon’s dad’s leaf mould, and used it all over the garden.
So, in honour of Leon’s dad, here are 10 reasons that I love leaf mould.
1. Leaf mould is free
I was surprised to hear that in some places, manure was changing hands for as much as £40 a load. Collecting leaves for leaf mould costs nothing but a few bags to put them in!
2. No chemicals in leaf mould
Arguably, leaf mould is the only true organic soil improver. So long as you collect your leaves from parks and gardens and not busy roads, you’re getting a 100% organic product.
3. Leaf mould is easy to make
Bag up the leaves, tie the neck loosely, and make a few splits in the bag. Leave for a year or so, and hey presto, leaf mould!
4. Leaf mould improves moisture retention
Adding leaf mould to soil keeps the water in. This is useful for both containers and beds, and after all, using less water can only be a good thing.
5. You can use leaf mould instead of peat
Peat is primarily used to retain moisture in the soil when it is dry, but leaf mould offers an excellent alternative. Mix with topsoil and garden compost for a good potting mix.
6. Leaf mould makes good mulch
I’ve been using leaf mould to mulch all my plants during the summer and they’ve responded well. Mulching helps to trap moisture and suppress competing weeds.
7. Leaf mould smells like a woodland!
I absolutely love the smell of woodland. I ride my bike in the woods regularly, and there is something gorgeous about that moist, fresh smell that gets me every time. And the other day, I went to a bag of leaf mould, and that same rich scent engulfed me when I opened it. Bliss.
8. Leaf mould is a good soil conditioner
Although not recognised as nutritionally rich, leaf mould is a good soil conditioner. It can be added to improve poor soils but also used to maintain already excellent soil.
9. Leaf mould provides winter covering for bare soil
Protect your soil during winter by covering in an inch or so of leaf mould. This will help keep the weeds down and gradually the worms will incorporate the mould into the soil for you.
10. You can use leaf mould any time of the year
Like garden compost, if you can get a good system and stock going, you’ll have a supply of excellent mulch available all year round.