Is it autumn yet? Do you feel excited about the coming of this season?
Colourful leaves of autumn aren’t just lovely to see; they’re also rich in essential minerals. If processed properly, they provide countless benefits to your lawn and garden.
For one, you can use them as fertilisers for shrubs, perennials, ferns, trees and other wood-plants. Second, you can use them as mulch for your pots and garden beds. Third, you can use
them as topdressing for your lawn. Fourth, you can use them as additional organic matter by digging them into the soil before planting. And fifth, you can also use them as seed-raising mix or as potting mix along with garden compost, washed sand, and loam.
How do you take these minerals from the leaves?
You don’t literally take out the minerals from the leaves. You break them down using a special composting process called leaf mould heap. Unlike the traditional compost where you need to balance and turn it, and keep it warm to enable fast-action bacteria to faciliate decomposition, leaf mould simply requires piling up the leaves, soaking them, and then just letting the fungi do the job of slowly decomposing the leaves.
For best results, take note of the following:
- It is crucial to have a compost bin strategically located near a shed to shelter the bin, and at the same time to allow rain to reach the leaves. You can use the bin bag method, but it is much better to build a bin since this process takes at least six months to as long as three years, depending on your goal. To make a rich soil conditioner, let it rot for two to three years. To make a rich mulch, six to twelve months will do.
- It is also equally important to choose the kind of leaves to include in the leaf mould. Leaves from deciduous trees are the best, like those from maple, oak, birch, elm, poplar, beech, ash, and liquidambar trees. Leaves that break down more slowly, like those from the evergreen trees as well as sycamore trees, must be kept to a minimum.
- To facilitate the process, it is best to shred leaves finely, particularly larger ones and those that takes longer to rot. Before putting in the bin, cut them into tiny pieces using a lawnmower.
You can have as much free mulch as you can with fallen autumn leaves. Pile them up as high as you can. If there is more room for two or three leaf bins in your yard, then you can even have well-rotted leaf mould for enriching the soil.