Questions about making leaf mold

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There seems to be a mix up here. The original post was asking about leaf mold and he's getting advice about making compost, they are two different processes. Leaf mold is a long slow cold fungal process which only needs damp leaves to sit for a long time whereas compost involves using leaves, a Nitrogen source and a bacterial source to heat up the pile. I use finished compost on all my new piles which are damp and nice and fluffy and will heat up to 150° within 3 days and then get turned again once the pile has cooled down. So now the OP is talking about adding coffee grounds and aerating the pile in a cage so we are now back to compost again. Both work well, I would use that cage set up for compost and just make piles elsewhere for your leaf mold. Here's my compost piles, I generally have two of them going depending on how many grass clippings I get.View attachment 93639
I get what you're saying. So if one is a cold fungaly driven process and compost is a hot bacterial one the end product then is different? I mean I would assume the makeup of the soil would be different anyways considering one is just leaves and the other is a whole bunch of nitrogen and carbon sources. And my cold fungally driven leaf pile could be turned into a hot bacterial one by adding greens or nitrogen sources or even sugars to it? But then the end product would be different. I can look this up but do you know what the major differences are between the end product of leaf mold versus compost? Also I'm going to take advantage of the bags of leaves in these neighborhoods and just make some regular piles in my yard like you said. I probably will start adding some food or nitrogen to this leaf pile to get it to break down quicker and then just have a regular leave file like you said. Thanks for the info and advice
 
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So your leaf mould will be a different speed in Georgia than it will be in the UK where the roses may well have made it famous. Leaves have low N, bacteria have little to eat therefore and the universal decomposers in the fungal world are slow to feed. I composted a large pile of compressed sawdust fireplace logs once and it took 3 years. Was not really done even then but I was done with it. A barren source of Carbon will act that way. Leave mould can take 2 years in colder drier places but (Go Dawgs?) it is warm and wet in Georgia. When you are finished you will have whatever elements were in the leaves plus a little biological matter.

But Fungi eat bacteria and also feast on the dead bodies. Another approach is to leave a compost pile alone after a hot run. The next year it will be full of fungal hyphae.

To enhance the protein (amino acid) profile you can go different ways but my point is that you either use and recycle what is available or import manures or expensive things like blood meal to head down the same road that leaf mould is traveling. It is ironic for this conversation that bacteria will begin decomposing dead fungi. Rotting mushrooms have that smell you know?

Increasing the friability of your clay soil for drainage requires a tremendous amount of leaves. We have red clay too. The finer aspects of leaf mould to red clay are like painting an elephant's toenails down here. We have a low OC percentage due to heat and rain in the southeast. It make the clay acid. Compost or adding biochar carbon that will not wash out of the clay or baked clay like the turface sports field products are less work over the years than composting can be alone. To increase the effort or slow the production of reusable organic matter does not help the soils here as much as it might be useful for some unique orchid or aboreal plant designed to exist on leaf fall and rain water up some trunk in the canopy.

Roll Tide!
 
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Some of you are very 'scientific' in your approach, I work on the basis that life is chaotic. For example, with evolution life does not evolve what is suited to the environment, it evolves all the possibilities it can, then the environment 'selects' those which will survive in it.
Working on that basis I leave the pile in contact with the ground, which is home to all sorts of things from fungi and bacteria to worms and earwigs. Then I throw in all sorts of left over bits and pieces like the scrapings from old compost heaps or leaf piles, bits of rotten stick, I even pee in it. Anything and everything all chaotically mixed up, but no refined sugar or anything else I have to pay for, and with no order or system other than giving things a chance.
 
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I get what you're saying. So if one is a cold fungaly driven process and compost is a hot bacterial one the end product then is different? I mean I would assume the makeup of the soil would be different anyways considering one is just leaves and the other is a whole bunch of nitrogen and carbon sources. And my cold fungally driven leaf pile could be turned into a hot bacterial one by adding greens or nitrogen sources or even sugars to it? But then the end product would be different. I can look this up but do you know what the major differences are between the end product of leaf mold versus compost? Also I'm going to take advantage of the bags of leaves in these neighborhoods and just make some regular piles in my yard like you said. I probably will start adding some food or nitrogen to this leaf pile to get it to break down quicker and then just have a regular leave file like you said. Thanks for the info and advice
I would say that in many ways leaf mold and compost are similar in that they are both great soil amendments that add excellent soil structure. However the big difference is that leaf mold only does that, whereas compost also adds nutrition to the soil as well, limiting the need for fertilizers that would be needed if you are only adding leaf mold to your beds.
So if you want to speed up your compost pile add a lot more greens, whether from your kitchen, lawn clippings from you and your neighbours, used coffee ground from your kitchen, friends or coffee shops and although not free, alfalfa pellets that have been soaked add a great nitrogen source along with other micro nutrients and also triacontanol, a naturally occurring growth promoter. Lastly, you need to add a good source of bacteria to speed up the process and build more heat, whether it's finished compost or even a few shovels full of soil.
In the future if you want to get even more into it you can greatly multiply the benefits of compost by using the finished product to make aerated compost tea, which is greatly beneficial to your gardens as a soil drench and to your plants directly as a foliar spray. I generally have a couple of pails going during the summer. I started off using regular aquarium aeraters like in the picture, but I have now upgraded to commercial grade air pumps that put out 45l/min that will support much higher bacterial growth in the tea. Along with that growth also comes the need for more carbs to feed the microbes, so I increase the amount of unsulphured (blackstrap) molasses I use. There is tons of info out there, here's one recipe for a start. https://fromhungertohope.com/what-kind-of-molasses-do-you-use-for-compost-tea/
compost tea.JPG
 
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I would say that in many ways leaf mold and compost are similar in that they are both great soil amendments that add excellent soil structure. However the big difference is that leaf mold only does that, whereas compost also adds nutrition to the soil as well, limiting the need for fertilizers that would be needed if you are only adding leaf mold to your beds.
So if you want to speed up your compost pile add a lot more greens, whether from your kitchen, lawn clippings from you and your neighbours, used coffee ground from your kitchen, friends or coffee shops and although not free, alfalfa pellets that have been soaked add a great nitrogen source along with other micro nutrients and also triacontanol, a naturally occurring growth promoter. Lastly, you need to add a good source of bacteria to speed up the process and build more heat, whether it's finished compost or even a few shovels full of soil.
In the future if you want to get even more into it you can greatly multiply the benefits of compost by using the finished product to make aerated compost tea, which is greatly beneficial to your gardens as a soil drench and to your plants directly as a foliar spray. I generally have a couple of pails going during the summer. I started off using regular aquarium aeraters like in the picture, but I have now upgraded to commercial grade air pumps that put out 45l/min that will support much higher bacterial growth in the tea. Along with that growth also comes the need for more carbs to feed the microbes, so I increase the amount of unsulphured (blackstrap) molasses I use. There is tons of info out there, here's one recipe for a start. https://fromhungertohope.com/what-kind-of-molasses-do-you-use-for-compost-tea/
View attachment 93652
Very helpful bro thank you
 
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These are plants around my house that are arboreal if they like you. Note the height of filter, and imagine a year of slow -aerated -vertically dropping -oxidation composting as they become the pile you see. Imagine the plants have chosen to rest their root system upon that pile.

They are horndogs for leaf mould.
 
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View attachment 93658View attachment 93659View attachment 93660View attachment 93661

These are plants around my house that are arboreal if they like you. Note the height of filter, and imagine a year of slow -aerated -vertically dropping -oxidation composting as they become the pile you see. Imagine the plants have chosen to rest their root system upon that pile.

They are horndogs for leaf mould.
I noticed that bad ass stack of rocks you got there too. I also enjoy the attacking and balancing of rocks.
 
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I found some agave syrup in my cabinet that's been there for years. I mixed it with water and dumped it on the leaves today. I was thinking of covering it for a few days ago rain doesn't wash it all off.
 
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I found some agave syrup in my cabinet that's been there for years. I mixed it with water and dumped it on the leaves today. I was thinking of covering it for a few days ago rain doesn't wash it all off.
Won't matter the leaves don't eat it. The oxidation layer is more or less the top 2 inches of soil where air can penetrate. Thats where the leaves get started from and everything too for that matter. Too bad. Mescal might have been a better use?
 
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It is for the soil microbes. It starts at the soil boundary and works its way up, so dont worry if it washes in. Piles are made from the inside out. Thats why some folks mix in soil with the leaves. Just a boring detail but hey its wintertime on a gardening forum.
 
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It is for the soil microbes. It starts at the soil boundary and works its way up, so dont worry if it washes in. Piles are made from the inside out. Thats why some folks mix in soil with the leaves. Just a boring detail but hey its wintertime on a gardening forum.
I think I understand. I thought about mixing in some soil. Maybe I'll go next door and grab a bucket full of that worm filled soil and dump it in top of my leaves, or try to bury it down in there.
 
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My experience is that the worms you find in compost and leaf piles are different from the earthworms I dig up, and that as long as there is some sort of contact with the ground they find their way there themselves. No harm adding a bit of soil though, it will be full of fungal spores and micro-organisms just waiting for something edible to burst into life.
 

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