Leafmold is one of the finest soil conditioners, and makes excellent use of a resource that is free and abundant in autumn—fallen leaves. All you need to make rich, crumbly leafmold is a plastic bin liner, some leaves from deciduous trees and a lot of patience.
When to start: Autumn.
At their best: The following autumn.
Time to complete: 1 hour.
You will need: 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.
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.
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.
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.
Tips: 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.