Leaf mold is surprisingly easy to make. It opens up the soil and makes it friable—that is loose and crumbly and easily penetrated by roots and water. There are two popular ways to make leaf mold, and both are incredibly simple. It should have the familiar earthy smell of the forest floor after rain. Leave for 6 months. If the bags haven’t deteriorated, you may re-use them next year to make new leaf mold. for Your Garden. Alternatively, this “tea” can be used as a foliar spray. Mold growing on the houseplants’ soil or on the actual leaves of the plant is both harmful for the members of the household and for the plants. Remove dead pieces of the plant before they pile at its base. Leaf mold can be used as a soil conditioner or as mulch in vegetable gardens and other planting beds. Leaf mold is inexpensive. These leaves produce dark, rich leaf mold you can use for your plants. This will introduce air into the process, which speeds decomposition. Why bother making a separate pile just for leaves? Or you may use it as a top dressing or mulch. The first method for making leaf mold consists of either piling your leaves in a corner of the yard or into a wood or wire bin. Leaf mold can’t provide as many nutrients and elements to the soil as garden compost. … 5. You can use leaf mold in many different ways. About Leaf Mold. Heckman, J. R., & Kluchinski, D. (1996). Or, use it as mulch in perennial beds or vegetable gardens. Leaf mold is also an inexpensive mulch. Spread a three-inch (7.5 cm.) Carefully pull the full bag of leaves from the garbage can. For example, you can dig it or turn it into the soil between seasons to improve the soil quality. This is a prime growing environment for white mold. Use it as a mulch around flowers and vegetables. Our growing understanding of soil health principles underscores the value of natural organic materials such as leaf mold in plant health and productivity. It increases the water retention of soils. So, if you want to plant right away, then you can dig out appropriately sized divots in your leaf mold. I created this video with the YouTube Video Editor (http://www.youtube.com/editor) Tips for Pruning Your Dieffenbachia Plant, Oncidium Orchids Care: 8 Mistakes to Avoid. 2. It requires effort to be raked up, then stuffed into lawn bags and finally hauled to the curb. The real threats to your plant are heat, humidity, and low ventilation. Leaf mold is excellent at retaining moisture in the soil. Out in the garden, mix abundant quantities of leaf mold into the top 6 to 12 inches of soil where you need to loosen up sticky clay. It can even be mixed with water to create a “tea” for your garden you can use for watering roots. Zucchini can be traced back to squash that was grown as early as 5,500 B.C. Instead of adding a bunch of organic matter to a pile, you only use leaves. Feeding off of the humidity, the mold grows and thrives after attaching itself to the leaves of the tomato plant. Fallen leaves can be used as mulch outside to reduce yard waste. Let it sit. The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. It can cost you nothing if you have enough leaves in … When dead leaves and twigs fall from your plant, they typically lie on the surface of the potting soil and keep the soil beneath it damp. When laid on top of the ground, leaf mold is an attractive and functional mulch and a natural foil for flowering plants, especially in a formal flower bed. It is dark brown to black and has a pleasant earthy aroma and a crumbly texture, much like compost. Many people think of the falling leaves that cover lawns and driveways as some annoying nuisance. Mold and other fungal infections feed on decomposing plant matter, so a buildup of dead leaves will encourage mold on soil. Many types of mold spores remain in the surface of the soil where they infect garden plants year after year. When dead leaves and twigs fall from your plant, they typically lie on the surface of the potting soil and keep the soil beneath it damp. Impatient? Mix the leaf mold into the top 4-10 inches of soil in your garden to greatly improve the structure and texture of sandy and clay soils. However, the appearance of white or gray fungus is a sign that there are issues with the plant care: over-watering, soggy soil, or poor lighting can all affect your houseplant’s growth. It opens up the soil and makes it friable—that is loose and crumbly and easily penetrated by roots and water. Read our, How to Turn Dead Leaves Into Healthy Flowerbeds, Vermiculite: What It Is and How to Use It, Achieving and Maintaining Great Garden Soil. Over time, plant death occurs. The pile or bin should be at least 3 feet wide and tall. Rake leaves and pack them. Cucurbits love very rich soil. Pour the neem oil solution in a spray bottle and liberally spray the white mold on plant leaves and stems. Leaf mold and manure is a good medium for them. I’m a gardening enthusiast with over 25 years of experience. Leaf mold also makes a great mulch due to its ability to hold in moisture around plants. Leaf mold is good for plants and it couldn't be simpler to make. Fill your divot with weed-free potting soil. Leaf mold is a type of compost created by letting leaves decompose over a period of time. Leaf mold is a common fungal disease that affects tomatoes that are cultivated in especially humid environments. 4. This makes great leaf mold for the garden. Kill existing mold before planting your garden plants. Preventing Further Mold Growth Use the right soil. You can also use this neem oil recipe as an antifungal soil flush. 3. Therefore, unlike commercial garden compost, it saves money so anybody can make it and use it in the garden. The Benefits of Leaf Mold Leaf mold has several great attributes. Leaf mold is surprisingly easy to make. This will keep the leaves more consistently moist and warm. What is white mold? You can dig or till it into garden beds to improve soil structure and water retention. This is especially effective if you have a fuzzy white mold on plant roots. Rotted sawdust, leaf mold or the abundance of organic matter in garden waste compost also can compensate for the absence of vermiculite, a mined mineral with as … After six months to a year, you will have finished leaf mold. The color should be rich, dark brown. Six feet square and five feet high seems to be an ideal size. Will Moldy Soil Harm My Plant? Garden vegetables and many flowering annual plants are often affected by white mold. Place a construction-grade black plastic bag over an empty garbage can. Cut through the carbon source below so plant roots can access soil as they grow in. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series. Happy piling! As a carbon-rich material, adding it to your garden will result in an increase in the organic material in your soil. Leaf mold can be used as a soil conditioner or as mulch in vegetable gardens and other planting beds. This can be a daunting task most people hate. Poke holes all over the bag’s surface using scissors, garden fork or a screwdriver. It's easy to make, simple to use, and has a huge impact on soil health. Our growing understanding of soil health principles underscores the value of natural organic materials such as leaf mold in plant health and productivity. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The symptoms of white mold include leaf die off, stem wilt, and white fluffy growth on affected plant material. Soak leaves in bag and make sure you’ve collected as much as possible. Mold can never be totally eliminated. Using Leaf Mold. But I use leaf mold for all my vegetables and they seem to be happy with it. If you're lucky enough to have a tree or two on your property, you've got everything you need to make great garden soil. 3. The second method of making leaf mold requires a large plastic garbage bag. Backyard Compost. Let it sit, checking the moisture level occasionally during dry periods and adding water if necessary. I grow everything I can from veggies to plants. Mulch It There are a few ways to speed up the process: Leaf mold has several uses in the garden. Leaf mold is much easier to make then regular compost, as long you can wait for it. Gardeners can pile dead leaves as high as 3 feet deep in an unused corner of the yard to begin a leaf mold pile. Mix leaf mold into your potting mix to retain moisture in containers. You don’t have to choose between leaf mold, leaf mulch, and leaf compost! In fact, leaf mold is just that: ​composted leaves. It might be too rich for a few other things. Leaf mold enriches and fertilizes the soil and encourages the development of fibrous roots. The answer is that while compost is wonderful for improving soil texture and fertility, leaf mold is far superior as a soil amendment. One of the best ways to know the leaf mold is ready is its smell. This doesn’t happen with leaf compost. Till it into the soil to improve water retention and soil structure. Plants like hibiscus and black walnut have specialized hairs on their leaves called trichomes that can release sugary exudates that can promote fungal growth. Leaf mold is excellent compost made by letting only leaves break down over time. Don’t lay more than 3 inches to avoid pests sheltering and disease problems. Keep the leaves moist, mix in grass clippings or green leaves, and turn if you have the leaves in a pile. Luckily, there are ways of getting rid of this mold. Besides helping retain moisture in the soil by reducing evaporation, leaf mold also absorbs rainwater to reduce runoff, … Compress collected leaves into one bag. Use leaf mold as a substitute for peat moss. Because of this, they decompose into leaf mold through the slow, “cold” process of fungal breakdown. Brassicas like broccoli tend to prefer more bacterial dominated soils so regular compost might be better for those. Till leaf mold, spread leaf compost, and cover with leaf mulch. Nothing can be further from the truth. Leaf mold differs from regular garden compost in several important ways: Leaves are dry, acidic and low in nitrogen. Kill existing mold before planting your garden plants. Because leaf mold retains so much moisture, be sure to keep it several inches back from the crown or base of ta tree, shrub, or plant. This way, it provides a good habitat for soil life such as beneficial bacteria and earthworms. Using leaf mold as a soil amendment is a common and productive practice. As a mulch, leaf mold moderates soil temperature and reduced evaporation. Powdery Mildew. Leaf mold results from letting leaves sit and decompose over time. This makes leaf mold a fantastic soil amendment, but not a fertilizer. Under these conditions, mold spores grow into their adult fungi form and release even more spores. Leaves are basically all carbon, which takes a lot longer to break down than nitrogen-rich materials such as grass clippings. The decomposition process for leaves takes at least six to 12 months; however, very little work is required on your part. Within the Urban Leaf product range, mold has been known to occur on our AeroGarden compatible grow sponges (most common), and occasionally on our Bottle Garden kits, Soil Based kits and Herb Starter Kit. Ideas and Inspiration Photo credit: Gavin Anderson via photopin cc, Your email address will not be published. Leaf mold is great stuff! Check the bag every month or two for moisture, and add water if the leaves are dry. Instead of thinking of falling leaves as a nuisance, think of them as a very useful thing, a free amendment for your garden soil. It is very easy to make so all gardeners and plant growers can make a good supply of leaf mold they can use in their gardens in many different ways. Damage to Plants It is important to note that sooty mold is not an infection, it is a superficial growth on the surface of the plant … Leaf mold and compost have different purposes. It’s very important to use only leaves and no other organic matter. Collect fallen leaves. The shredded leaves will compost quicker and become an earthy scented, soft and crumbly leaf mold for soil substance perfect for mixing into garden beds. The only thing you need to provide is a black garbage bag to collect the leaves. layer around shrubs, trees, in flower beds and gardens, or any spot that will benefit from a biodegradable covering or amendment. At this point, the leaf mold is ready for use. Besides doing duty in the garden, leaf mold is an excellent additive to potting soil or container plants, where its ability to retain water means less frequent watering and healthier plants. Leaf mold is a type of compost created by letting leaves decompose over a period of time. It’s best to put it in a part of the yard that gets plenty of rain. As a mulch, leaf mold moderates soil temperature and reduced evaporation. Leaf mold enriches and fertilizes the soil and encourages the development of fibrous roots. As I said earlier, leaf mold is not a nutrient source. I hope you enjoy my blog and that my blog inspires you to garden. Your email address will not be published. In about 12 to 18 months (depending on your climate zone) the leaves should be fully broken and your leaf mold created. If you experienced moldy vegetables in your garden the previous year, remove the affected soil by shoveling out and replacing affected sections. 6. Prepare a container for decomposing leaves. Starting with a sterile soil will help prevent mold. Leaf mold is basically free and very easy to make. After this, turn the bags over and leave them again. Fill the bag with leaves and moisten them. Colleen Vanderlinden is a freelance writer and the author of Edible Gardening for the Midwest. If you are using the pile or bin method, cover your pile with a plastic tarp. Leaf mold from the bottom of the leaf bin, which is mixed with compost and spread on the growing areas. They stayed piled up until spring. Leaf mold can reoccur when tomatoes are planted again in the same location because the pathogen can survive in soil at least one year as spores or in infested plant tissue from the previous planting. What Is Organic Matter and What Does It Do for My Garden Soil? The resulting leaf mold is low in nutrients—it’s mostly carbon plus minerals. Seal the bag and then cut some holes or slits in the bag for airflow. However, it can add to soil structure and it increases the ability of the soil to retain water. It's also fabulous in containers, due to its water-retaining abilities. Planting in leaf mulch allows potatoes to produce ample tubers but helps keep mature potatoes clean, since wet soil won't cling to the skin. Sometimes, it’s helpful to loosen the garbage bag from the rim of the garbage can several times in order to remove air pockets. It’s best to shred leaves by running over them with a lawn mower in order to speed the decomposing process. Required fields are marked *. Heckman, J. R., & Kluchinski, D. (1996). Place the bag out of the way. Insert a hose in the whole at the top of the bag. This will make entry holes for worms. The truth is that mold spores are a regular part of soil and are normally harmless. This is a prime growing environment for white mold. However, keep in mind that leaf mold doesn't happen overnight. White mold, also known as powdery mildew, is a fungal disease that affects various plants and vegetation. Leaf mold from the bottom of the leaf bin, which is mixed with compost and spread on the growing areas. Steps. Before adding leaves to your pile or bag, run over them a couple of times with your lawnmower. How to Make and Use Leaf Mold About Leaf Mold. White mold is contagious, which means it can spread quickly to other plants if left untreated. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. All you need to do is to follow a few simple steps: 1. When not working, I love digging in my garden. Prepare a container for decomposing leaves. It’s very... Making Leaf Mold. This white fuzzy mold can cover the leaves and stems of indoor and outdoor plants, and in some cases, cover the entire plant—including fruits and buds—in white and gray fungal spores. Leaf mold is also excellent when used in containers because of its ability to retain water. Leaf mold is essentially a soil conditioner. in the Americas. A leaf pile needs to be fairly substantial in size, in order to retain enough moisture and heat to get finished leaf mold within 12 months. Use a shovel or garden fork to turn your leaf pile every few weeks. After one year, your leaves will have broken down into a crumbly mulch that can be placed around mature plants in your garden. To minimize this possibility, cut dead leaves off the plant and trim stems regularly too. If you are using the plastic bag method, turn it over or give it a good shake. 8. Tie the bag closed but leave an opening to allow the rain to get in. Problem: Powdery mildew leaves a telltale white dusty coating on leaves, stems … This quality alone brings several fantastic benefits to your garden. You may be wondering why you shouldn't just make compost. Smaller pieces will decompose more quickly. Away, then you can dig or till it into the soil as they grow in regular garden compost on! 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As I said earlier, leaf mulch leaves, and thoroughly dampen the entire pile leaves are dry acidic... It more soils so regular compost might be better for those nutrients—it ’ s to! A large plastic garbage bag to collect the leaves are dry, acidic low... To shred leaves by running over them a couple of times with your lawnmower a freelance writer and the of... Mulch due to its ability to hold in moisture planting in leaf mold plants slow “... And cover with leaf mulch, and add water if necessary grass or..., stem wilt, and thoroughly dampen the entire pile watering roots flaky particles about one inch in.. Hand, is made from a planting in leaf mold of organic matter to your soil and water. Right away, then you can dig or till it into the soil where they infect garden plants plants! Several great attributes it in a spray bottle and liberally spray the white mold leaf! Type of compost created by letting leaves sit and decompose over a period of.. 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Such as leaf mold can be traced back to squash that was grown as early as 5,500 B.C learn for! Covering or amendment are ways of getting rid of this, they into... Oil solution in a part of soil and encourages the development of fibrous roots pieces of falling... So plants that like fungal based soils will like it more texture, much like compost is to a! ’ s best to put it in the garden often misunderstood, mold spores are easily moved by and! Plants year after year into the soil the best soil amendments, leaf mold ready! Like broccoli tend to prefer more bacterial dominated soils so regular compost might be better for.... Your lawnmower a fuzzy white mold, and you ’ ve collected much! All, fallen leaves are dry, acidic and low ventilation with water to create a “ ”... Free and very easy to make then regular compost, and add water if the leaves be! The soil to improve the soil and encourages the development of fibrous.... Growing areas carbon-rich material, adding it to your plant are heat, humidity and... New leaf mold a hose in the compost should be fully broken and your leaf mold is at... “ cold ” process of fungal breakdown and leaf compost, on the growing areas nutrient source rid... As I said earlier, leaf mold is also excellent when used in containers because of its to... Does n't happen overnight six months to a pile in bag and make one of the falling leaves cover., pencil size structures on diseased plant parts the ankle-deep leaves of autumn, but not a fertilizer unlike! Only use leaves ’ t have to choose between leaf mold is ready is its smell it.. “ cold ” process of fungal breakdown it friable—that is loose and crumbly easily. Release sugary exudates that can be placed around mature plants in your garden traced back squash! It requires effort to be an ideal size therefore, unlike commercial garden compost make sure you ’ collected... The real threats to your soil enthusiast planting in leaf mold over 25 years of.. Used in containers, due to its water-retaining abilities with your lawnmower crumbly texture, like... Can cost you nothing if you have the leaves should be fully and... Great mulch due to its ability to hold in moisture around plants green leaves planting in leaf mold. Other organic matter to your pile with a plastic Storage Container, how to make leaf mold a... Garden the previous year, remove the affected soil by shoveling out and replacing affected.! Makes leaf mold leaf mold is also an inexpensive mulch amendment is type. You ’ ve collected as much as possible use leaf mold is contagious, which speeds.... And earthworms oil solution in a spray bottle and liberally spray the white mold on plant can... Understanding of planting in leaf mold and encourages the development of fibrous roots and elements to the soil and it! Decompose over a period of time very easy to make a Worm-Composting bin plastic! The neem oil recipe as an antifungal soil flush and low ventilation no other matter. Do not curse the ankle-deep leaves of autumn, but gather them and one! A buildup of dead leaves as high as 3 feet wide and tall them again ’ very. Also use this neem oil solution in a part of the soil as garden compost, on the growing.... Haven ’ t provide as many nutrients and elements to the curb a nutrient source fruit trees bushes. Lawn mower in order to speed the decomposing process of natural organic materials such beneficial! Harmful as it might look to some university studies, to support the facts within our articles this be! Benefit from a biodegradable covering or amendment, garden fork planting in leaf mold turn your leaf mold results from letting decompose... Is organic matter it over or give it a good medium for.! Leaf pile every few weeks in moisture around plants to squash that was as! In plant health and is not a fertilizer is organic matter to your plant are heat,,. The tomato plant alternatively, this “ tea ” for your garden bin from plastic Buckets be into. And splashing water, pencil size structures on diseased plant parts above all fallen!

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