It’s not a disease—just finely shredded leaves.

Almost any garden will benefit from a dose of leaf mold.

Gardening could be an inexpensive hobby, but at my house it’s not. One of my many springtime splurges is the purchase (at $8.50 per bag) of six to ten bags of cocoa mulch. I use it in my perennial beds, applying it by the handful and only in the front of the beds where it will be seen. The fine texture and dark brown color really sets off the plants, it doesn’t rob nitrogen from the soil, and it packs tightly enough to stifle most weeds. But after 20 years of buying cocoa mulch, I have found something even better: leaf mold. It has the same fine texture and dark brown color. It packs tightly when moist and improves the soil—probably even more so than the cocoa mulch. Best of all? It’s free and locally produced. In fact, I make it in my backyard. How green is that?

I’ve never seen leaf mold for sale commercially. But with all the press it has been getting lately, that’s probably just a matter of time. Until then, all you need to make your own is a good supply of leaves. Our how-to instructions will get you started. If you’re already an experienced leaf mold producer, please leave a comment and let us in on your own secrets to success!

By the way, below is a picture of Leslie Ward from our customer contact center. She is one of our most avid gardeners and is a long time fan of shredded leaves and leaf mold. This photo shows Leslie (on the left) with her friend Jane who is a market gardener. Each fall, Leslie helps Jane at the Saturday farmer’s market and in exchange, Jane uses her truck to pick up bags of leaves from curbsides and drop them off at Leslie’s house. Leslie uses our electric leaf shredder to shred more than 100 bags of leaves. (The photo at the top of this post shows one of her shade gardens mulched with leaf mold.)

Leslie and Jane with their haul.

-Kathy LaLiberte Director of Gardening, Gardener’s Supply