Leafmould is easy to make and free. It has very little nutrients but is very useful as a soil conditioner; it opens up heavy soils and helps with moisture retention on light sandy soils. It is also useful as a mulch on veg beds and ornamental borders.

Leaves are high in carbon and are broken down by fungal action. Materials that we put in the compost bin are broken down by bacterial action, the bacteria needing lots of nitrogen to keep working. We can add leaves to the compost heap but they will take a long time to break down and the break down process will use a lot of nitrogen that the bacteria need. So it is better to make leafmould separately from the compost heap.

All that is needed is a wire netting (small gauge) cage to stop the leaves from blowing around. Just use two or three small stakes or bamboo canes, driven into the ground and surround by wire netting. Add the leaves and just leave them to break down. You can add grass cuttings, mixed in with the leaves, or urine to speed breakdown. After a year, there will be some nice leafmould in the middle of the heap that you can use and then just keep adding leaves as they become available.

Research by Garden Organic has shown that using leafmould on the veg plot gives healthier plants, better yields and less problems with pests and diseases.

So, have a go!