Barlow Nurseries

Growers of trees, shrubs and hardy herbaceous perennial garden plants near Newport, Shropshire

There’s gold on them thar pavements…

We have to exercise extreme self-control whenever we drive home from Newport at this time of year.   Our route takes us past Chetwynd Deer Park, and the pavement is always knee deep in newly fallen leaves just crying out to be collected up and turned into gardening gold – leaf mould!

I wonder if anybody would mind if we helped clear them up a bit?   Would a man from the council chase us down the road shaking his fist at us because we’re depriving him of a recyclable resource?   Or would he want to shake us by the hand for saving him a chore?   Do the council collect and recycle, or simply sweep and dump?

It would be a labour of love of course – you have to collect gazillions of leaves to make any sensible amount of leafmould, and there’s no way it would make any sort of economic sense;  but it’s still difficult to drive past all those lovely leaves and not ponder an industrial scale leaf mould cage.

leaf mould cage

If it’s worth having, it’s worth waiting two years for…

We do it domestically anyway –  we have enough trees in the garden to make a few barrow loads of leaf mould each year.   You can see our three stage leafmould cage in the picture.   Newly collected leaves go in the biggest bin;  after a year the resulting (almost usable) leafmould is transferred into the smaller bin, and after its second year it gets transferred into the tiny bin at the front, waiting to be used.

We have a variety of trees in the garden, and leaf fall is staggered over several months each autumn, so the largest bin is “filled” several times each year.   It gets stacked to the gunwales, and the contents always sink alarmingly (but obligingly) before the next batch of leaves are deposited.  That’s the trouble with leafmould – you start out with farcically large quantities of leaves, and end up with tiny amounts of usable compost.   Leafmould bins are horticultural black holes.

We usually manage about 4 “fills” before the garden is leaf-free, then we wait…and that’s all we have to do;  12 months later we move the leafmould from bin (a) to to bin (b) etc, and the stuff in bin (c) then becomes garden treasure – the finest mulch/soil conditioner/compost ingredient known to man, reserved only for our very favourite plants, or those needing the very highest level of TLC.

It’s a bit of a conundrum really – how can such a simple and straightforward process produce such a delectable result?

If you haven’t got the space or the leaves for large scale bins like ours, just stuff whatever leaves you have in bin liners, add water if they’re dry, puncture a few air holes in the bags, and leave them somewhere out of sight for a year, preferably two.

And enjoy!

Leave a Reply

© Barlow Nurseries 2004–2019
Web Design by Andrew Steele