When the deciduous trees drop their foliage in the fall season and cover the forest floor, the leaves decompose slowly and release nutrients back into the soil. In the natural environment, this cycle protects the soil from drought and provides a wet growing medium for young plants and seedlings that reach spring.
This natural process can be replicated at home to improve soil health and fertility. It is a free and easy to make soil amendment that has many uses in the garden …
What is the mold of the leaf?
Leaf mold, also known as leaf mulch, is a form of compost composed entirely of leaves of shade trees. When the moist leaves are allowed to decompose over time, the result is a dark brown to black humus with a brittle texture and earthy aroma.
Although the creation of a traditional composting system offers an earth-friendly way to get rid of your kitchen's waste and yard waste to produce organic matter rich in nutrients, leaf mold has its own set of advantages:
5 reasons to create your own sheet mold
1. Leaf mold is a superior soil conditioner
A garden is as good as its soil. The ideal type of soil is the franc, which consists of equal parts of sand and silt with minor amounts of clay. The loam soil has a loose and brittle texture that allows water and air to flow through it. Because it is porous, clay soil does not compact, allowing water to drain so your plants do not flood. Having a good soil inclination also means that plants can easily eat nutrients.
The leaf mold is a wonderful soil fixative. It does not matter if your existing soil leans towards clay or sand, the mold of the leaf will help to improve the structure of the soil around it. When it is added to dense clay soils, it loosens it and prevents it from compacting after heavy rain. For loose sandy soils, the mold of the leaves makes it more cohesive, preventing the soil from eroding while maintaining moisture.
2. Leaf mold increases water retention by more than 50%
During periods of high temperatures and little rain, keeping your garden beds well watered can be a Sisyphean task. But when the mold of the leaf adheres to the soil or is placed on the soil surface as a mulch, it significantly improves the water retention capacity of the soil.
According to a report Published by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, leaf mold added a 3 to 4 day moisture supply to growing plants compared to unmodified gardens. When the leaf mold is applied as a 3-inch mulch, it keeps the soil temperatures 3 to 4 ° F cooler at a depth of 2.5 inches on hot, sunny days.
3. The leaf mold contains 15 essential elements for the growth of plants.
Although it is often said that leaf mold is mostly lacking in nutrients that keep plants growing strong, the analysis of the chemical composition of leaf litter It reveals that it supplies small quantities of several important elements.
Samples of red maple leaves, red oak, sugar maple, sweet gum, sycamore, pin oak and Norway maple contained a variable range of carbon, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, boron, iron, copper, zinc , sulfur, sodium, manganese, nickel and chlorine.
Although this nutrient mixture will provide increased growth in early spring, it is recommended that you apply 25% more fertilizer by the end of June to keep the garden plants happy.
4. Mold of leaves increases the yields of fruits and vegetables
Another benefit of the application of foliar mold in the soil is its impact on food-bearing plants. Because leaf mold improves soil conditions, it allows root systems to flourish, which in turn increases the absorption of nutrients to obtain higher yields of fruits and vegetables.
A study published in Science and use of compost compared effects on onions grown in modified soil with leaf mold with an unmodified plot over three years. The group of leaf mold onions was consistently larger in size and produced a considerably larger volume at the time of harvest than the control group. As an additional benefit, leaf mold also reduced the susceptibility of onions to soft rot disease.
Similar results were observed in soybean and corn crops The leaf mold used soil amendments to increase yield.
5. Turning yard waste into leaf molds is earth friendly
Apart from the practical reasons for making the mold of the leaf, it is also an ecological way to recycle garden waste.
When tree leaves, grass clippings, tree branches and other debris from outside are sent to a sanitary landfill, they are stored in an airless environment. Instead of generating compost, these otherwise clean and biodegradable materials emit carbon dioxide and methane gas, which are the main contributors to global warming. If the landfill installation does not strictly control these emissions, they are released into the atmosphere and filtered into the surrounding land.
Unfortunately, only 25 of 50 states in the USA UU they have a total ban on landfill waste. But you can do your part to reduce your carbon footprint by transforming tree leaf waste into a valuable and renewable resource.
How to make sheet mold
Unlike traditional compost that is created with heat and bacteria, leaf mold is a slower process that takes place in colder climates through the decomposition of fungi.
Collect fallen leaves that are abundant in autumn and stack them in a shaded corner of your yard or keep it contained using barbed wire. The pile should be at least three cubic feet large. Once the leaves are stacked, dampen it well. Check moisture levels every so often and water again if it begins to dry.
If you do not have room for a stack of large leaves, another option is to place the leaves in a trash bag. Moisten well, seal the bag and make holes along the sides to allow air flow. Check moisture levels every two months.
It usually takes between six months and a year for the leaves to decompose in the mold of the leaf. If you create a pile of leaves in the fall, you can have your hands on the finished sheet mold in time for the following spring. For make faster the process:
Cut & # 39; Em Up -Before adding leaves to the pile, grind them into smaller pieces by running a lawnmower over them and then scraping them. You can also invest in a leaf shredder or vacuuming sheets with a crushing function, such as this.
Turn the battery – Increase the air flow by turning the pile with a fork every few weeks. If you are using a garbage bag, shake it well.
Cover the pile – Catch moisture and heat inside your outer pile by covering it with a tarp.
You will know that the leaf mold is ready to use when it is brown and soft and crumbles in your hands. Place it on beds in your garden and use it as mulch for perennials, trees and shrubs up to three inches deep. It is also an excellent substitute for peat when mixing your own floors For indoor plants and gardening pots.
So, if you have two (or 20) trees to clean up after this fall, it's worth it to devote a good free and abundant service!
Reference: https://www.naturallivingideas.com/leaf-mold/, by Lindsay Sheehan
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