You may have seen U City in Bloom employees and volunteers out mulching during the past few weeks. We are so lucky in our community to have a resource of very clean and well-developed leaf –mold. Now you might think by looking at it that we are applying compost but look a little closer, we are actually using a mulch called leaf-mold and it is one of the best things to enrich your garden. Unlike compost, which is high in nutrients and green material, leaf-mold is mild in its nutrient analysis, somewhere in the range of 2-1-1.5. Therefore, you get benefit from the nutrients, but more importantly, leaf-mold is full of minerals that feed beneficial microbes and fungi that help improve soil structure. Leaf-mold is also great for water retention, much better than compost and hardwood mulches. It does breakdown pretty quickly so a couple applications a year are sometimes warranted.
The City of University City picks up leaves in the fall and shreds them to make this beautiful dark brown mulch. In a natural setting, these leaves would fall to the ground and slowly decompose and recycle their nutrients and minerals back to the forest that dropped them. Here we are able to quickly recycle the leaves and distribute them anywhere we want to improve our soil structure and feed the gardens we adore.
If you are a University City resident, you can take advantage of this valuable community resource. (If you are not a U. City resident, check with your local government to see if they recycle their leaves in this manner). Heman Park has a distribution area where you can pick up leaf-mold, compost, wood chips and firewood. There is no cost if you load it up yourself, however, you can also have it delivered for a fee. Remember to take a look when you are there and determine if you are getting compost or leaf-mold, often they have both available. Compost is fine and will crumble in your hand. It is darker and heavier than leaf-mold. Leaf-mold is best found there in the first half of the year. It is lighter in color, but not much, its fluffy and composed mostly of shredded leaves. By mid-summer much of it has broken down to a heavier compost-like texture but it is still awesome stuff. For more information, check out the City of University City’s website, www.ucitymo.org.