I love the topic of leaf mold. I'd just like to share what I've found using leaf mold in my garden the last 4 years or so. I am fortunate enough to be able to get as much leaf mold as I could ever want thanks to it being available at a local dump site. They have a huge mountain of shredded leaves from when they suck up leaves from the curbs in the fall. When you go to the leaf mountain, the top 6 inches looks like fresh shredded leaves. Once you get past that first layers it's completely black and looks like aged manure.
In using the leaf mold, I do believe it's best used as an amendment and better to be mixed in the soil than to just filling a bed with it or layering it on top. Although the leaf mold does absorb a ton of water, this also means it takes a ton of water to penetrate the ground when the leaf mold is on top. This can be mitigated with a good mulch layer of woodchips on top as this will keep the leaf mold from drying out. I also fill like, as with any thing you add to the soil, the benefits are going to be seen more so in the future rather than right away like chemical fertilizers. So for a brand new garden and adding leaf mold for the first time it may not be quite as fertile and productive as that same garden a year later when that leaf mold has now been integrated into the soil.
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