Sorry I have been AWOL on this blog the past year. Good news/bad news is that it has gotten extremely busy at Kanji Naturals managing increased gardens, herbs and production of quality products.
Gardens are all wrapped up and markets are over and I am ready to get back to the blog. It is my intent to post information about growing and harvesting herbs in a zone 4 area and intriguing information to support your natural health.
So to todays topic: Utilizing all those leaves in your yard to make garden gold: Humus or often called, Leaf Mold.
Leaf mold is solely comprised of decomposed leaves making a very rich soil amendment for your garden that will improve the soil and feed the menagerie of microbes and earthworms in the ground. Leaf mold is one of the best amendments for growing woodland medicinal herbs.
Choose an area in your yard that you can use to collect and allow leaves to decompose over a 1 to 2 year period. Choose a way to enclose that area for the leaves. Think of an area where there is good air circulation. I originally thought of placing my leaf mold area in a corner of my fence next to my water barrel. Then I realized, there would be like, no air circulation and very little sun to heat it up. So I switched locations and looking for a second location to use next year so I always have leaf mold in process or completed each year.
To enclose my composting leaves, I chose a circle of chicken wire. Simple and plenty of air flow and I also had excess of said wire. I then began gathering leaves as they are falling. To speed up the decomposing process, I mow the leaves so they are already in small pieces that are easier to degrade. If grass clippings are among the leaves, that is fine. Add it in. Another option is to add some high nitrogen material like chicken manure or fish meal to speed up the process. Since I have no chickens, I will not be adding that and will see how long it takes.
It has been a very dry fall this year, so I have added some water to the leaves. Be sure to keep the pile moist during the growing summer season.
How do you know when the leaf mold is ready to use? It will be dark and crumbly.
I am so excited to make my own humus. Utilizing compost made by the city takes away my control of what is going into my garden. I don't know if people put diseased plants in the compost or plants/weeds with weed killer or pesticides on them. I want to avoid that at all costs.
If your like me and still have plenty of leaves left over, don't add them to the city compost pile (do use for your own compost pile). Use them as winter mulch protection for your plants. I put a few inches of leaves over my lavender, strawberries, garlic, lemon balm and peppermint and other potentially sensitive plants. If we get bitter cold temps with little or no snow, these plants will die. With the leaf mulching, they stay nice and warm and a bit more moist than otherwise. These leaves that are falling on the ground are pure gold!
Please refrain from using any leaves from a tree with disease or fungus. These leaves should be burned and not placed in compost.
So go jump in that leaf pile and then transport them to your leaf mold station and enjoy your own rich black soil amender.