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Growing veggies in leaf mold

 
Posts: 6
Location: Doylestown, United States
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I have a lot of not quite leaf mold - from last year, mix of species, no black walnut, a little pine, not much
. What vegetable crops will grow well in this? What about sweet potatoes?
 
gardener
Posts: 2123
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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I use leaf mold as a mulch and soil amendment (I don't till it in). In my experience all my vegetables like growing in beds mulched by leaf mold. If I could make more of it I might switch exclusively to mulching with leaf mold instead of that and wood chips.

But it does get blown around more easily if it's not broken down fully into duff. And birds like to kick it around. Once it's truly broken down into dark duff then it stays put better.

Leaf mold is made by fungi slowly breaking down leaves so plants that like fungal based soils will like it more. Brassicas like broccoli tend to prefer more bacterial dominated soils so regular compost might be better for those. But I use leaf mold for all my vegetables and they seem to be happy with it.

I put leaf mold down in the fall and let it sit over the fall and winter so it continues to breakdown over that time. It really is a great mulch and soil amendment. Worms and other soil life love it too!

I haven't yet grown sweet potatoes but my guess is they would do really well with leaf mold.
 
pollinator
Posts: 380
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
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Daron Williams wrote:I use leaf mold as a mulch and soil amendment (I don't till it in). In my experience all my vegetables like growing in beds mulched by leaf mold. If I could make more of it I might switch exclusively to mulching with leaf mold instead of that and wood chips.

But it does get blown around more easily if it's not broken down fully into duff. And birds like to kick it around. Once it's truly broken down into dark duff then it stays put better.



I don't know if you'd call what I've got right now leaf mold or not. It's partially shredded leaves that were dumped into a big pile in my front yard, and as I've been able to cart the leaves to the back yard, I've been spreading them over beds that I've started building the soil for. I'd say they're about 7 months old now. Some mycelium lacing through but not a lot.

What' I've done that's been pretty successful in keeping the leaves from blowing around is just scattering buckwheat seeds into the wet leaves and lightly raking over them. I don't know how much the seeds will grow before they die, but all of them have sprouted and there seems to be good growth. I figure it'll just help build up those beds until the worms come in and I can get ready to plant something into them.



 
pollinator
Posts: 212
Location: WV
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I'm using the shredded leaves from last fall as mulch on my garden beds this year.  The only issue I see is that they tend to mat down if they're very deep.  I try and go around my beds about once a week and fluff up the leaves, especially if rain is forecasted.  

I pull back the leaves and plant in the soil.  In the case of seeds, I pull a shallow layer of leaves back over the soil to help hold in the moisture.  Sweet potatoes would do well under the mulch but really need to be planted in the soil beneath.
 
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