Monty Don: ‘Keep gathering leaves’ throughout November to make leafmould – ‘easiest way’

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Leafmould can be used as a mulch, soil conditioner, potting mix or seed compost. Although it can take a couple of years for the best leafmould to be made, gathering leaves now will ensure that it can be used as a mulch in the Spring.

Sharing advice on his latest blog post, Monty Don explained how to make leafmould at home.

Monty wrote: “Keep gathering fallen leaves, mowing them, keeping them damp and storing in a bay or bin bags to make leafmould.

“Leaves decompose mostly by fungal action rather than bacterial which means that dry leaves can take an awful long time to turn into the lovely, friable, sweet-smelling soft material that true leafmould invariably becomes.

“So either gather leaves when they are wet or be prepared to dampen them with a good soaking before covering them up with the next layer.

“It also helps a lot to chop them up.

“The easiest way to do this is to mow them which also gathers them up as you do it.

“Of course if the leaves are too wet they will clog the mower up so I try and sweep and rake them into a line when dry, run the mower over them and then give them a soak with the hose when they are in the special chicken wire-sided bay.

“If you don’t have room for a dedicated leaf bay then put the mown leaves into a black bin bag, punch a few drainage holes in the bottom, soak them and let it drain and then store it out of sight.”

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It may also be worth adding a small amount of water into the bin bag to help the process.

For those storing their leaves in a dedicated area, experts recommend placing it in a sheltered part of the garden.

This is to ensure that the leaves are not blown away.

Monty added: “This system works perfectly well.

“Either way the leaves will quietly turn into leafmould over the next six months without further attention.

“You can also use them in Spring in a half-decomposed state, as a very good mulch around emerging plants.”

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the best leafmould is made from the leaves of oak, beech or hornbeam.

The website states: “Some leaves, such as oak, beech or hornbeam, break down with little assistance and produce an excellent quality product.

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“Thick leaves like sycamore, walnut, horse chestnut and sweet chestnut need to be shredded before adding to the leafmould pile, as they are much slower to break down. Alternatively, they can be added to the compost heap after shredding.”

Leafmould can come across several problems due to how long it is left in the elements for.

The RHS said: “Leafmould heaps can become infested in weeds, so use the resulting product cautiously, avoiding formal areas of the garden where weeds could be a serious problem.

“Street leaves may be contaminated with litter and rubbish, so make sure to sort through the leaves before adding them to your leafmould pile.”

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