Most people see fallen leaves as a nuisance and an eyesore but to the gardener they are like gold dust! Collecting leaves to make leaf mould is the best part of autumn as it produces a superb soil conditioner and tidies up the garden at the same time.
Making leaf mould is a fungal process which means the top of container needs to be open to the weather to keep the leaves wet. The common advice is to use chicken wire strung around four wooden poles knocked into the ground. Like many other pieces of received gardening wisdom it is not the best way. The problem is that the leaves at the edges are dried out by wind which slows down the fungal rotting process.
This year we decided to test this out by doing trials of two different containers and to compare leaves that have been shredded by using a leaf vacuum and those that have not. This should test the assumption that the shredded leaves will rot quicker.
A traditional leaf mould composter was made in October as part of a composting project at the local church. It was filled between October and the end of December 2019. Each barrow load of leaves was added to the pile, soaked and trampled down.
The shredded leaves were taken off site and treated in the same way as they were added to a used builder’s big bag. As a control another big bag contains whole leaves. The bags are open at the top, but the sides stop the contents from being dried out by wind.
[pics of big bags here] Sorry, they will be added very soon
It should take 12-18 months for the leaves to rot down, but we will inspect all containers every few months to see how things are going.