On our street we have two beautiful big maple trees that show off their colourful beauty come autumn time. They dump a huge amount of orange, red and yellow leaves that cover the grass in a thick blanket. It seems such a waste to just let them decompose all over the place without getting any benefits.
Even if your street has no deciduous trees on it, I’m sure somewhere close to you at least, there is a bounty of fallen leaves. To make the most of what nature is offering, I’m going to show you how to make your own leaf mould cage.
What is leaf mould?
Leaf mould is just leaves that have decomposed and broken down into a wonderfully nutrient rich compost.
It’s absolutely fantastic for your garden for moisture retention, as a soil conditioner and ensures your soil doesn’t leach nutrients. It also contains a massive amount of minerals and provides nutrients to all the beneficial microbes you want in your garden.
How do you make leaf mould?
Leaf mould takes a long time to make so it’s not just a matter of scooping up the decomposing leaves on the grass and chucking those on your garden. The leaf mould you make today won’t be ready until at least autumn next year.
Don’t worry though, it takes time but hardly any effort.
Where do I use leaf mould?
Leaf mould can be used to enrich your pre existing garden beds, just add it to your soil and work it in. It can be used as a mulch around your plants to help with water retention. If you have hard clay ground, working in some leaf mould will do wonders to the clay and make it looser and much more crumbly.
Leaf Mould Cage
- 4 x 1m wooden posts
- chicken wire
- staple gun
I’m not writing exactly how much chicken wire you’ll need as it depends on how big you want your cage to be and how many leaves you’ll be collecting. I used about 4m chicken wire for mine.
Choose a spot that gets sun (at least in spring and summer, don’t worry if it doesn’t in winter).
Hammer the 4 posts about 5cm into the ground, in a square or rectangle shape.
Wrap the chicken wire around the posts and use a staple gun to secure them into place.
Then go out and collect your leaves! Preferably not from on the road as the leaves may be contaminated with oil and petrol. Fill your basket as high as you want (the more leaves = the more mould you’ll make)
If you want to speed up the process, you can cover your cage with some sort of plastic tarpaulin to keep in the heat but this is not necessary. If you do cover it, make sure air can still get in.
When the weather gets hotter, check your leaves to see that they aren’t drying out and water as necessary. You want to keep a nice even level of moisture in there.
Check your leaves in autumn next year to see how they are doing. If they’re dark and crumbly with an earthy smell it is ready to use.