What do you think of when you see leaves?
By now you have heard leaves are good, maybe you even have some in your compost pile. You may know from “Compost 101” that compost does best with a mix of browns and greens, and that fallen leaves are usually a “brown”. Did you know you could compost leaves alone? Just make leaf mold!
“Leaf mold” depends on fungus rather than bacteria to decompose the leaves. Because leaves consist primarily of lignin and cellulose, it can take a year or more. On the other hand, it requires little effort, and it's really useful to have around. I shred mine with my leaf vacuum, pack into plastic bag, add a little water, and poke some holes in the bag. It's like a ferment people! I get to feel good about sitting around waiting!
On top of the soil, as a mulch, it protects the surface of the soil against erosion and run off, protects against extreme fluctuations in temperature, increases enzymatic and microbial activity.
Mixed into soil as an amendment, it improves soil structure, and drainage, while increasing its ability to retain moisture.
Mixed with soil and perlite, or even with perlite alone it can make a great container mix!