The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Autumn leaves


Photo: Autumn leaves

Photo: Autumn leaves

I’m going to throw fruit nets over our vegetable borders next year when the leaves begin to fall. I spent most of the afternoon raking up leaves and testing out my new leaf collectors. They are really good for picking up leaves on the paths. In fact it’s quite fun seeing how many you can pick up at a time.

But getting the leaves from between the rows of vegetables was a bit of a nightmare. They had to be shifted as with the recent rain they create a slug haven. Our vegetables are packed in pretty tight. As I ranged between the rows I realised that I’d be doing exactly the same in a couple of days time. I began hunting for spare nets immediately. In the end I found two – we need five so I’m thinking of dismantling our smaller fruit cage temporarily. Covered with a light net we would just need to clear the nets every couple of days. Speedy and satisfactory.

John used to put the leaves on the grass compost heap but this year I thought I’d make leaf mould. This will give me more satisfaction than just tossing them onto the compost heap and it seems like a quaint Cottage Smallholdery sort of pursuit. Has anyone out there go any tips for making leaf mould? Should I put them in dustbin bags or cover them with plastic sheeting? And then once I’ve got the leaf mould what’s to best way to use it?

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  1. Hi, just came across your sites and already printed off a couple of recipes and added it to my favourites!

    I find that if you have a large volume of leaves, the best solution is to find a quiet corner in the garden and pile them up and leave it to nature to rot them down. My own experience is that using this method they will rot down much quicker than in bin bags.

  2. I can see that they would be a pain in the bum, but I have to say they are so beautiful at the moment!

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Suky and S.O.L

    The onion bags are a great idea. Thanks.

    Hello Springtime

    I didn’t realise what a nightmare the leaves are until this year. Looking forward to producing my own leaf mould though.

    Hi Penny

    They look great! But have to stop spending money at the mo ?

    Hi Steve h

    Well I have lots of canes and netting so I think that I’ll give your method a go.

    Hi Cathy

    You can read about it here

    Basically it’s used as a soil conditioner.

    Hello Toffeeapple

    Well I didn’t know that you could use it for houseplants. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Toffeeapple

    The result of leaf mould composting can be used to pot indoor plants and to enrich your soil. Good luck, I’ll be interested to see the result.

  5. Sorry to be silly, but what’s leaf mould? Is this just compost composed of just leaves? Does it give the garden a particular kind of nutrient? Is it better than compost?

  6. Hi F,
    The easiest way of converting leaves to leaf mould that i have found (on the net), 😉 is simply to push 4 garden canes in the ground in a square-ish shape, and fasten a circle of chicken wire around them. Just keep chucking your leaves in, pressing them down each time, then covering the top of the “pen” with a bit of plastic sheeting to keep out a bit of the rain. Turn contents every couple of months, and use as and when ready.

  7. I’ve been putting my leaves in some nifty jute sacks that Crocus sell just for this purpose. You can pack loads in and the bag smells good too!

  8. Springtime

    I’m having the exact same problem! The bed with the autumn-sown cabbages has protection over it, but I’m struggling to even see the outline of the other beds for all the leaves.
    Good luck with the leaf-mould making!

  9. I also thought they should be put in net bags…

  10. They can be placed in plastic sacks which have had a lot of holes cut in them or ask your greengrocer if he has any netting sacks that loose onions come in. These are perfect to fill with leaves and put in a quiet part of the garden for 12 to 24 months to gently rot down.

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