As Autumn is in full force here at the cottage, the Russian Olive trees, Acers and the deciduous trees are dropping more leaves than I can manage. There has been a problem with wet winters and leaves on the ground here promoting things like leaf spot and other nasties. To stay on top of this, we try and get out once a week to rake and make bags of leaf mould for next year. But why?
- Leaf mould is free and just requires a little effort.
- It’s suitable for all fallen leaves in Autumn.
- Pine needles are dropped mostly in Spring and may take 2 – 3 years to decay
- Shred evergreens like holly and laurel and add to the compost pile to breakdown faster.
- Leaf mould is essentially a soil conditioner and increases the water retention of your soil.
Making Leaf Mould
We don’t like to use any chemicals in our garden. Our kids are small and if there is a natural way to combat a problem, then we are trying that first. Aside note: this is not helping the never ending War on Weeds! My father a long time ago, when I was too young to appreciate the advice, told me about the magic of mulches. Alas my young and carefree ways meant that I have a hazy memory of his advice. Leaf mould is an easy one though and can be a fun family activity as long as you don’t mind re-gathering and a few leaf fights along the way. Equipped with dustpans, brushes, a rake and wellies, a family field trip to the back garden was born.
We have a walled in garden but one side is near a road. You all remember how photosynthesis worksright? Well these leaves might be affected by pollutants from heavy traffic so if your collecting leaves from out and about, try and stay to the quieter streets. I think we are ok though, so I just added these to a bag of their own. Ahem, also pick a day when it’s not blustery or you end up eating a few leaves.
We raked into piles and let the toddler dump the leaves into black sacks. We then tied these at the top and stabbed the bag a few times to allow air through. The leaves were a little damp but if yours are dry just moisten them a little before you tie them up. And that’s it, we just stacked these guys up in the back of the shed and we will grab them in two years time. I’m impatient so I will check next year but I think it will be 2 before they are done.
How to Use Leaf Mould and some things to watch for:
I usually use well rotted leaf mould as mulch and top dressing on my beds. I just spread it out when I need to cover up the soil and suppress weeds. If your pile is slow to breakdown, treat it like your compost and turn it to aerate it. Just use your nose, if it smells strongly then something is wrong. Any leaves that have mould on them just bag and bin you don’t want these in your garden and spreading disease.
We also have been using my father-in-laws shredder all summer long. To break up all those bark, hedge and tree clippings. There was also an unruly honeysuckle incident that was like a scene out of a Disney movie. Two days later I had survived and the honeysuckle has been tamed. All the clippings went through the shredder and the resulting bark mulch was bagged and tagged for use later next year.
After the excitement of leaf gathering, we all piled inside for hot chocolate or milk and some family quiet time by the stove. If the thoughts of quiet time and finally getting an exhausted toddler to sleep isn’t enough to get you outside, think of all the fresh air and exercise you can get in before the winter season descends!
Pumpkin Watch & Winter Window Challenge Update
The first pumpkin has made it’s way passed the finish line here at the cottage. That is believe it or not from the babies pumpkin plant. Didn’t mummy do a good job helping little K? I’m not jealous though, nope, it’s not like my pumpkin plant died or anything. (cough cough) The variety is Hundred Weight and the seeds where from Tesco and gotten as a gift for the kids. So to say thanks, I started our Families First Pumpkin Competition! (Yes, I thought I was a sure winner – bah)
The seedlings are off to a great winter start and the raised beds have been covered in fleece (Thanks Fiona!) The cauliflower seedlings were moved into bigger pots on Saturday and the spring onions went into the outdoor raised beds by the cottage walls. The salads are just about to be moved! I know some of you have already eaten your microgreens and are on to something new already. How are you getting on? Have you planted those seeds or herb garden? Did you manage to get out in the garden at all or are all your minds lost in the delights of the upcoming K&S show and EYF (Edinburgh Yarn Festival)?
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