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July 26th, 2011

It's Leaf-Mold Harvest Time

dougSummer brings an abundance of tomatoes, green beans, and zucchinis. I harvested something else just as wonderful from my garden this weekend: leaf mold. Last year’s autumn leaves have decayed to the point that I can put them to use in the garden.

Leaf mold is the easiest form of compost to make. It requires just one ingredient: leaves. Last fall I dumped my leaves (and a few from my neighbors) into a 5-foot circle of welded-wire fencing, then left them to slowly rot without any further attention.

If I had shredded the leaves first, the leaf mold might have been done in May. (And if I’d turned the pile a couple times, it would have been done even sooner.) As it is, with my hands-off method, the finished leaf mold is ready to use while I’m prepping the garden for fall vegetables. I incorporated some of it into the soil of my raised beds. Some of it ended up between the rows of summer crops, as a mid-season topdressing. What was left became mulch among the roses and perennials.

Last fall, it seemed like I was stockpiling a mountain of leaves. Eight months later the volume of finished leaf mold is less than one-fourth of what I started with. There’s never enough!  —Doug Hall

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