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speeding up leaf mould?

berardeberarde Posts: 145
I end up trying to store bags of leaves (old compost bags) but on a 2/3 year cycle they require a lot of space. I get maybe 4/5 bags a year, a lot of apple tree leaves and beech.

I understand it is more fungi than bacteria and worms that do the job, but is there something to speed it up, like adding a fungus starter? Would it speed up in chicken wire cage rather than bags?


  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 14,965
    Sorry, but it takes as long as it does. Just ensure that you keep it moist.
    None of the tricks that work for compost heaps will help.
    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,864
    Is there a particular reason you need " leaf mould" and not " compost"? 
    You could add grass clippings to it and mix it up, that's speed things up, but it wouldn't be "leaf mould" but it'd be usable much more quickly
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,530
    The first time I tried to make leafmould, I put it in mesh cylinders, and only the core rotted, the top and outside surfaces didn't.  So I decided it was too dry, and the following year I tried plastic bin bags.  When I opened the bags a year later, they were full of wet leaves, reduced in volume but otherwise unchanged.  So I decided that was too wet.  Year three, I reverted to the mesh cylinders, but lined them with two thicknesses of corrugated cardboard.  Much better result - The whole heap was as good as the core in year one.  Having said that, the species makes a big difference, some take much longer to rot than others.  I collect leaves off the street, where most of the trees are London plane, and whatever trees grow in neighbours' gardens.  I daresay if you google "making leaf mould" you'll find information about which leaves rot fastest.
  • FireFire Posts: 18,966
    You can shred or cut up the leaves and keep the leaves damp. Adding a bit of earth from your garden would add some funghi and bacteria to speed up the process.
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923
    if you can chop them up and make sure they're sitting on soil they'll break down quicker as fungi, bacterial and worms from the soil can make their way into the leaves, also keep them damp, and don't run the pile as this will help break them down quicker as well, but it'll still take over a year for them to be usable really
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,336
    edited January 2020
    I agree with Hosta - it depends whether you really want pure leaf mould or a general product you can use as a mulch etc.

    I collect leaves and chop them with the lawn mower on the lawn to include some grass clippings. Both the chopping and the grass speeds decomposition. They are stored damp in builders dumpy sacks until about April. By this time the leaves have started to break down and I add them in 4-6" layers to the compost bin - sandwiching them between similar depth layers of green material (grass clippings, soft green pruning etc). By winter I usually have nice coarse compost suitable for mulching borders.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • WilderbeastWilderbeast Posts: 1,415
    Hi Berarde
    I windrow my leaves up with my mower taking a good length of grass with them, this means they go through the mower 4/5 times so they are thoroughly smashed up. Then they go into my compost heap I turn this very regularly (it's sad but weekly is my preference) and by spring they have really broken down well.  
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 12,403
    I've always understood that you don't need to turn leaf mould at all. Just make sure you keep the leaves moist (not saturated). Most of the good stuff will be at the bottom not the middle so make a hatch at the bottom to rake out the good stuff and leave the rest to keep rotting down.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 14,965
    I agree @Lizzie27. Turning does not help when making leaf mould.
    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • berardeberarde Posts: 145
    Thank you. I tried mowing them up this year so it sounds as though that will help. I'll try adding some soil too and putting small quantities in the compost bin. 

    I just do leaf mould to supplement if I am running out of garden compost. So mostly as a soil conditioner, but also use it for planting holes if the compost is short.

    It has such a lovely smell of woodland that it is a real pleasure to use.

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