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4thPanda

Last autumn I bagged up my fallen leaves into a black plastic sack, with holes in, and left it at the bottom of the garden. I haven't touched it since. Is there anything I should do to it before I can use it in the garden? I am aware that one small bag is but a drop in my garden, but it is my first effort at some form of compost!

Dovefromabove

I'd have a look inside - hopefully it'll be in the perfect condition to use as a mulch or to dig in to improve the soil - if the leaves still haven't rotted down you could do what I do, and that's add them to the compost heap in layers and by late spring it'll all have rotted down into lovely compost. 

4thPanda

Stupid question Dove, but what should it look like? I know what normal compost looks like 

Dovefromabove

Stupid questions are the ones you don't ask - how you ever gonna find out? You end up just as iggerant as you started that way 

Will look sort of dark browny/black and crumbly - a bit like coarse damp tealeaves - ish 

4thPanda

Cool! Thanks  Might brave a peek this weekend 

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Dovefromabove

Hopefully there'll be lots of dark pink worms wiggling around in there too 

4thPanda

Ooo! I love finding worms 

punkdoc

My leaf mould is comprised of nearly all beech leaves. I store them in a chicken wire bin but I do find it is 3 years before I get a really good crumbly mix. It is worth it though as it is fantastic soil conditioner.

Dovefromabove

Our ash leaves are breaking down well in six months in bin bags - in  a year it's fine to use as leafmould, but we actually add it to the compost heap in layers the year after gathering them (so at about 6 months) as we find it helps make the compost mix work better, and because we don't have a lot of space to keep it in bags. 

fidgetbones

I am making leaf mould in big builders bags. The oak leaves get mown up and so there are some grass cuttings in there as well. Last years have gone down by half and I have combined two bags. The leaves on top were too dry and have not rotted as well as the stuff at the bottom.

4thPanda

My leaves are from my lilac, pear, plum and apple tree. Haven't taken the plunge and looked in the bag yet  Will do tomorrow if the weather is good 

Green Magpie

Hope it lived up to expectations - if not, just close the bag again and leave it a while longer, maybe even another year. If it seems dry, add some water because leaf mould needs to be kept damp. Apart from that it's just a matter of time and patience.

MrsGarden
My leaves are all bagged up now. Just wondering what's the difference, or why don't i, just put them around plants as a mulch or on the normal compost?

you could just put them around plants as a mulch, they should rot down eventually, I find, though, that the wind blows them into corners where  nothing is growing! It depends on the leaves as well. I won't bother trying to rot down the London Plane leaves that will carpet my garden in a week or so. They are so big and woody they take ages to rot and if I leave them on the ground they smother everything, so I gather them up for the council to take away. However I obsessively gather up smaller leaves and especially the leaves from the Lime tree in my garden, as those rot down really quickly - should be ready by this time next year.  Leaves will rot down in the compost heap too as long as you have lots of green stuff - like grass clippings - mixed in with them.

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MrsGarden
Nothing easier either gg.thanks.
Green Magpie

Quite a lot of leaves in our garden do end up getting stuck in the corners, underneath bushes, etc, but we still gather up most of them for composting.

I think that if you try to use them as mulch, they'll blow around and end up in useles heaps in the corners, by walls etc, or littering your lawns and paths. I suppose this does little harm, but it may provide a cosy retreat for slugs and snails, and sometimes it may smother little plantlets or seedlings that are struggling to reach the light.

You can put them all in with the other compost, but if there are substantial layers of leaves, they may not break down as fast as the rest, and this may delay the time when the compost is ready to use. We keeps ours separate, so that if the leaf mould isn't ready but the compost is, we can use the compost and cover up the leaves for a while longer.

Leaf mould is made when leaves are broken down by mainly fungal action, whereas compost is made by bacterial action. Leaves can be added to compost when it can help speed up the rotting process, but generally it's best to keep leaves separate, as recommended by Punkdoc, Dove, and Green Magpie.

Dovefromabove

We sort of combine the two really 

Dovefromabove wrote (see)

Our ash leaves are breaking down well in six months in bin bags - in  a year it's fine to use as leafmould, but we actually add it to the compost heap in layers the year after gathering them (so at about 6 months) as we find it helps make the compost mix work better, and because we don't have a lot of space to keep it in bags. 

 

No expert

GG if you collect them with the lawn mower they will not be so big.

Have collected about a dozen bagz so far this year.

Last years emptied from bags into their own newly constructed compost bin with new bags sitting on top.

They take time to decay but not going anywhere soon I hope.