Leaf mold may not sound like something you’d want in your garden, but it is an excellent soil amendment. It’s a lot like compost, earthy smelling and crumbly. And like compost, it improves soil texture. But leaf mold also invites lots of those beneficial organisms that you need living in your soil. And it improves water retention by as much as 50%. All for free!
It’s not really mold. It’s decomposed leaves. And it is embarrassingly easy to make.
1. Pile leaves
3. Use leaf mold.
I usually just pile my leaves in a back corner. One year I had put them in those paper leaf pick-up bags and piled those in a corner. They decomposed even faster. Of course the bags are also made to decompose, so I wound up with a pile anyway. I didn’t mind.
I could have mowed or shredded the leaves and turned the pile, but I’m not that ambitious and I love surprises. It takes almost a year for them to transform into wonderfulness, but when they do, keep your shovel handy.
You can work some into the top layer of garden soil, side dress with it or use it as a mulch. I haven’t yet tried it in containers, but that will be the real test of water retention. Seriously, when you find out how easy and rewarding it is to make leaf mold, you will be sneaking out at night, filling bags with the leaves your neighbors raked to the curb.