Start a leaf­mould bin

Garden Answers (UK) - - Easy Gardening -

Com­posted leaves make a fab­u­lous soil con­di­tioner called leaf­mould. This dark crumbly ma­te­rial cre­ates a hu­mus-rich root en­vi­ron­ment for wood­land plants in par­tic­u­lar. You can’t buy it from gar­den cen­tres but it’s re­ally sim­ple to make your own in au­tumn. It takes about a year to break down. Quick op­tion: Bag up gath­ered leaves in black plas­tic bin lin­ers, tie the top and stab the sides with a gar­den fork to cre­ate holes so wa­ter and air can cir­cu­late. Sim­ply put them out of the way for a year or so, adding a lit­tle wa­ter from time to time. Neater op­tion: Place the leaves in a plas­tic dust­bin with holes drilled in the base and around the sides. Store by your com­post heap and wa­ter oc­ca­sion­ally. Rus­tic op­tion: If you have lots of leaves, build a semi-perme­nent mesh bin us­ing a 4m (13ft) roll of chicken wire and four wooden stakes about 1.2m (4ft) tall. Find a shady, hid­den spot in the gar­den, drive the stakes into the ground 90cm (3ft) apart to form a square. Wrap the chicken wire around the perime­ter and se­cure in place with metal sta­ples or u-shaped nails ham­mered into the wood. Leave a 10cm (4in) gap at the bot­tom so hedge­hogs can use the leaves as a hi­ber­na­tion spot, but make sure there are no sharp pieces of wire that could maim or trap them. Al­ways check for frogs and hedge­hogs be­fore stick­ing a fork in your bin.

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