Leaf Mold, Compost Gold

Close-up of hand holding a pile of dirt and leaves.

Discover the Benefits

As tree leaves turn colour and begin to fall, we’re reminded of their value and multiple uses in the garden. Leaves can be raked into the garden where they become a protective cover for plants and habitat for pollinators through the winter. They can also be used to create “leaf mold.” 

Leaf mold is made from leaves that have decomposed and transformed into a rich, brown, crumbly material that resembles compost and is excellent for your garden. Spread a light layer (5-8 centimetres) onto your flower and vegetable gardens to gradually improve the soil’s structure and ability to hold moisture as well as nurture the soil’s beneficial microorganisms that keep pests in check.

Creating Leaf Mold is Simple

Collect Fallen Leaves

In an out-of-the-way location (ideally in the shade), pile your leaves. Keep the pile tidy by placing them in a wire or wooden frame that is at least one metre wide and one metre tall. Alternatively, place the leaves in a large plastic bag and add a bit of water to moisten them. Seal the bag and then poke some holes or slits in the bag for airflow. 

Let the Leaf Pile Sit for a Year or Two

Some leaves, such as white birch and Freeman maple leaves, decompose quickly. Others, such as leaves from red oak, take longer. You can speed up the process by mowing over the leaves before piling them, adding a few grass clippings to the pile and by turning your pile over every few weeks using a shovel or garden fork. If you’re using the plastic bag method, simply shake the bag. Keep the pile moist (not wet) during dry weather by spraying with the garden hose. Leaf mold is ready to use when it’s soft, dark and crumbly.

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