The joys of leaf mould and November blooms.

I have spent the last thirty years trying to get some substance and water retention into our dry sandy soil. A few years ago I try to make leaf mould in old compost bags. I checked the bags at 6 months, 1 year, 18 months…  and found… a pile of soggy leaves.

Yet I still felt that autumn leaves were too precious to put in the municipal compost bins. So I netted off an area under the trees at the back of the garden and just threw leaves in there… and there they stayed year after year looking like dead leaves.DSCN8634

Then a couple of years ago I was clearing a corner by the water butts DSCN8638
and found the original bags full of… leaf mould! This year my husband pointed out that the area I had neIMG_1297tted off had… turned into leaf mould. I found another log and ivy-infested area between the trees at the back of the garden.


And,  with the help of a robin or two (he’s in there somewhere) I cleared this, netted it,DSCN8648  IMG_1278and filled it with leaves. All I have to do now is wait for five years…IMG_1299And this is where the hedgehog may be about to hibernate (he is still feeding) DSCN8639 After all those unexciting images here are some November blooms. DSCN8673 DSCN8677 DSCN8684 DSCN8686

29 thoughts on “The joys of leaf mould and November blooms.

  1. A great post. Leaf mould makes the world go round. The best investment ever was when we bought a worm farm. They’ll turn anything into rich friable soil. We bought the container about five weeks ago with a thousands worms, all were packed in a carton tucking heartily into shredded newsprint. (Murdoch’s)

    You’ll find the worms a peaceful form of entertainement as well. Early in the morning I often lift the lid and watch the squirming mass of friendly worms dining on tea and coffee grounds. They love food scraps but not onions or citrus.

    Great series of photos and I love the smell of a good leaf mould. It is going to get into the forties today and people have been warned to stay indoors, drink water.
    A rose by any other name…what a lovely rose.

  2. What’s the matter with him ?! – he should be GLAD and rosy ! 😀
    I am delighted for you, HCG: you deserve such delightful surprises.Your dark red cosmos are sensational, and I’m not a bit biased. (Much …)

  3. I used to love having a robin as a companion in the garden until the BBC revealed that they do it because they used to accompany wild boars through the forest. Very deflating information!

    • Umm, I wish I knew, my memory for years as they pass is very unreliable. I have trawled my iPhoto, but a pile of leaves in a dark corner is not something you think of photographing. At least 4 years, I think. It is quicker making it in bags (they claim 2 years), but much more of a fiddle and you have to keep opening and wetting them. Piling them in an open area or container is easy. Some leaves are slower than others, but I believe you can buy some kind of accelerator… (a bit of research here – urine works a treat). The secret is forgetting them until they are ready.

  4. I think that’s a neat idea about leaf moulding (I hate-hate-hate how the mentality in the U.S., at least this part of it, is ‘must burn it all away’). I also must admit, I’m a none-too-good steward of our compost bins. I almost never ‘turn’ the things, and am not very knowledgeable about them. My latest in-yard fascinating–animal-related of course–is that I found a deformed toad the other day. I wanted to bring him/her inside and nurture him/her, but husband wouldn’t let me. I don’t think s/he was ‘hit’ by a lawnmower or animal, because s/he was missing feet on opposite sides of the body. Makes one wonder about the water quality (etc.) around here though, although I have not seem any other malformed amphibians about. The spinach did decide to re-sprout, however; I guess it really enjoys the cold more than I thought it would! [I guess I should be winterizing my garden; already should have, that is, but I haven’t done some of it, just mulched the juvenile trees in the yard.]

    • I have to admit that I am a haphazard gardener. I fit things in when I can, sometimes the compost gets turned, but it’s often no more than once a year. The veg plot seems to make its own laws – beans good one year, spinach the next. This year a bug got all my leeks. What a curious things about your toad. I guess the rest of the animal world is as susceptible to genetic malfunctions as humans are, and we don’t often see them as they probably don’t survive. I hope your toad has a great life in your garden. I’m sure the trees are glad of their mulching – I find it’s best to count the things you’ve managed to get done, rather than listing all the things that didn’t happen!

  5. My life revolves around leaf mould too. Always trying to make more. I have an Azalea in flower! The Winter Jasmine is out and next years bulbs are already popping up. But I don’t have a hedgehog. Present idea for anyone who wants to send me something? I really want a hedgehog.

    • I expect you are a little more scientific about your leaf mould. I have one Azalea that always flowers this time of year, but I think it is tender and usually bring it in before the frosts. I’d send you one of our hedgehogs, but I don’t think they travel well. The winter Jasmine is looking stunning, and I suddenly found flowers all over the winter honeysuckle, a thug that I’ve been cutting it back viciously all summer…

  6. Leaf mould obviously needs a whole blog to itself!
    I think an important part of the process is forgetting it/believing it will never work etc. I have a tiny garden and follow Alys Fowler’s advice to bag up damp leaves loosely with air holes in normal black rubbish sacks and leave in a shady corner somewhere for a year or two. This year opened up the bags for the best leaf mould ever – no idea why!

    • You are right. I felt a bit presumptuous answering questions about it, given my erratic success, but I think you have it – forgetting it is best, and nature will get on with the job when it feels the time it right.

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