Tuesday, May 18, 2010

leaf mould compost

I went shopping at chickenfeed yesterday for large plastic bags in preparation for making leaf mould compost(LMC). LMC is a soil conditioner, it improves soil structure as well as its water holding capacity. LMC is different from regular compost due to it consisting mostly of the carbon skeletal structure left over after the tree has drawn back all the nutrients it can. The leaves once piled together and wetted take six to 12 months to turn into a fine humus based crumbly soil.
When collecting leaves wear a dust mask, the fine particles and fungi spores irritated my lungs on my first load leaving me coughing while trying to stuff the collection bags.
All my leaves came from a pile which the wind  helpfully blew into a easily harvested pile along a fence line.

Preparing the site was a simple case of removing a few persistent weeds, erecting a few star pickets and wrapping the site with a mix of mesh and roof sheeting (to prevent the fence from being rotted down as well).  A thick layer of overlapping newspapers  was put down to suppress weed infestation, was wetted to prevent the wind from blowing it away.
After reading a few articles on the web I might add a carboard wall to the inside of the mesh to maintain moisture levels all the way to the edge. Make sure your site is at least one metre by one metre.

While wearing a dust mask add leaves either pre- wetted via an old bathtub or similar. The other option is to hose liberally each layer you add it. At this stage you could sprinkle a layer of manure or blood and bone  between each layer of leaves. This addition will make it more like a regular compost pile due to the addition of nitrogen from the manure/ blood and bone. keep adding until your pile is close to a metre tall.

Over the next year occasionally check the moisture levels and spray as required. The damp environment maintains the conditions required to promote fungal and bacterial  based breakdown.

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