It’s not over! It may seem like the gardening season is coming to an end but there’s still lots to do throughout autumn and winter. It’s a good time to plan, to organise and to set the foundations right for next season. With that in mind and as the streets and lawns are covered with leaves it’s time to take advantage of this wonderful gift from nature, it’s time to make leaf mould.
This month I had the opportunity to do something a little different I was invited to speak on the importance of compost at a local school, there I was met by a really eager audience both eager to learn and eager to get stuck in. Together we started set the foundations of their new garden.
After a long growing season our gardening beds can be a little exhausted and as leaves are full of trace-elements they are great for re-mineralising your growing beds, it’s natures way of giving back. Leaf mould is a slow, cold composting method that takes advantage of fungal activity to break down the leaves, so is a good way of building all important fungal life in the soil. Which is sadly lacking in a lot of our soils, the damage to fungal life in soils is made worse by digging and breaking up the mycelium networks. So it’s important to try to rebuild that fungal life and leaf mould provides the perfect opportunity to do so.
When collecting leaves I have a few rules, firstly not to collect them from where they may harm the natural eco system, such as woods, under bushes and on bare growing beds. Leaving leaves on bare soil is a good way of protecting the soil from the elements and encouraging the soil biology to work it’s magic. I like to collect leaves from places they may cause a nuisance for example on hard surfaces, lawns and where they could wash in drains causing blockages. That way we’re serving more than one purpose at the same time.
I’ve changed the way I make some of my leaf mould so I can use it to heat my greenhouse throughout winter. I also use the traditional hot bed method to provide a source of heat for my plants in my greenhouse which enables me to overwinter plants like chillies and ginger outside. I’ve done video on my YouTube channel documenting how I set up my compost heating systems. I still have lots of chillies to harvest and a few tomatoes still producing even now in November both of which I intend to keep going for as long as I can, I’ll also sow my onion seeds, peas, broad beans for next year as well as a variety of flowers. That’s one of the things that was missing this year, which I really want more of next year, lots of pretty flowers.