Sunday, November 13, 2011

Making leaf mould - black gold

Gardening and growing vegetables in clay isn't something any right-minded gardener would choose however, given no other option, it is something the industrious gardener can learn to live with. Producing good quality compost is essential to assist in replenishing the soil's nutrients and helping to break down those lumps of claggy clay thereby improving the overall structure and fertility.

We use our compost as an ingredient in home-made potting compost along with a small amount of clay soil, vermiculite, sand and black gold... better known as leaf mould. Commercial potting compost here in Asturias is poor quality and expensive so we prefer to make our own.

At this time of year, collecting fallen leaves to make leaf mould is a welcome and regular task. Gawber normally gets in on the act and loves to ride in the wheel barrow around the garden. Having quite a few mature deciduous trees in the orchard and on the periphery of La Pasera means we get lots or raw material to collect. Cherry, oak, walnut, peach and hazel leaves mix with leaves blown into the garden from neighbouring maple, chestnut and fig.  With the advancing late autumn and winter winds from the Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay, we prepare for the onslaught well in advance by covering the pond with a fine mesh and ensuring we have regular collection sessions and adequate containers in which to compost the leaves.

We really don't do anything special with them apart from collect, bin and leave. One lot is an open wooden frame lined with black plastic and an open lid and the other is a green plastic compost bin we were given as part if a local recycling scheme. Given time 1-2 years minimum, we can produce a compost from leaves that really helps with the structure and health of the soil. Just in case you want something a little more comprehensive on leaf mould check out the link below.

A bit more to go yet - this batch is from last year.

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