27. Oct, 2022

Fallen Leaves: Compost or Leafmould ?

It is the time of year when the trees donate their leaves to composters. So what can we do with them?
In the US the answer seems to be simple, compost them, while in the UK many opt for making leafmould as it is said that leaves take a long time to decompose because they are a Brown and do not contain much nitrogen. But if a nitrogen source is added they will turn into humus in a few weeks. So I add nitrogen.
One way of adding some nitrogen is to shred them by mowing them on the lawn but the amount added is limited so it is better to add greens when building the compost pile.I have a constant supply of used coffee from a couple of cafes so layer that into my bins. If you are  more  "mucky" (or traditional) you may favour one part matured manure  added to about five parts leaves (easy to estimate if layering the bin) but if comfrey leaves are   still available they, or other green garden waste, can be used, as can urine.
Leafmould is traditionally made by putting the shredded leaves in a wire cage, But now many people  use a plastic sack, stabbed with a fork and left for a year or two.
Autumn leaves can also be kept and used as a brown to be added to the bin when composting during the winter months but this is less common in the UK where the more urban composters tend to have a constant supply of cardboard and paper. However, I overwinter leaves  on the allotment both for the compos bins and the wormeries.
The photo shows mowed leaves.