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Ruud Kleinpaste: Leaf mould, black gold

Newstalk ZB Staff ,
Publish Date
Saturday, 5 May 2018, 1:11p.m.
The leaf mould will keep moisture in for months to come. (Photo: Getty Images)

We made compost a few weeks ago and discussed autumn colours last week. Now it’s time for gathering all the fallen leaves and storing them for years to come as “leaf-mould”

 I’ve been known to do this in my dressing-gown in the dark, raking copious amounts of my neighbour’s leaves and processing them for my own garden, before they blow away or get washed away in a flooding event!

 Gather the leaves and stuff them in an empty wheelie-bin; the largest one is the best

Literally compress them into the bin, if need-be: stand on them to squeeze them as hard as you can.

Keep your balance and be safe!

 Wheel this bin – when it’s full – to a dark, back-block of your garden (under trees in the corner somewhere); you really don’t want to see this pile for a year or so, so you might as well hide it from view

 Gently tip the compressed leaves out of the wheelie bin and try to stack it in such a way that the pile of leaves stays in one piece; preferably “standing up”

 You’ll notice that all these leaves are “layered” from the downward pressure; This is exactly how they are slowly starting to decay in the next year or so.

 Remember they are mostly veins and cuticular leaf-skins, and thus largely contain Carbon C.

That in itself makes them almost impossible to compost; they’ll keep their shape and layered constitution.

The interveinal leaf surface will decay somewhat, but the structure remains the same

 18 months or so, later, when spring commences, it will be the most brilliant leaf mould you can put on your garden to cover the still cold soil.

The dark matter will gather heat from the feeble spring sun; it helps to heat your soil

It shades the soil, so weed seeds have no show of germinating

The leaf mould will keep moisture in for months to come (summer-drought will be less severe)

And contact with the soil will create access to more Nitrogen for further composting into one of the finest compost (leaf mould compost) you’ll have ever seen:

 It creates humus that will fluff-up your soil and give nutrients a lot of places to attach itself: N, P, K etc.

 Once you’ve done this for the first time, you’ll be gathering leaves every autumn and create two, three, four piles of leaf mould …

You might even be seen in your dressing gown, gathering the stuff under the cover of darkness:

Black Gold!

ON AIR: Andrew Dickens Afternoons

12p.m. - 4p.m.