For years, I’ve recommended high-quality compost as a top dressing for yards and as a means to build vegetable beds, often suggesting two parts rose soil to one part compost. Nowadays, though, there are several producers of what’s known as “vegetative compost,” which is by far the best for top dressing. But did you know that the very first compost of that kind was from Nature’s Way Resources? It’s their famous Leaf Mold Compost. I thought you might like to hear from John Ferguson, the soil scientist himself, on how Leaf Mold Compost came to be.
The story of our famous Leaf Mold Compost
By John Ferguson of Nature’s Way Resources
The story begins when I was a boy, and my parents’ house backed up to a utility easement. My dad took an old wire-mesh swimming pool frame and placed it in the easement, forming a bin. Starting when I was 9 years old, my job was to rake the leaves and place them in the bin. It wasn't long before the neighbors were hiring me to rake their yards, and all the leaves went into the bin creating a pile 10 feet in diameter and six feet tall.
The leaves would gradually decompose, and by the following season the pile would be less than a foot tall. This continued for years, and the "leaf mold" layer at the bottom became thicker.
I love to fish, and I noticed that earthworms I found in soil were small, but those in the leaf mold pile grew as big as a pencil. One day, I was digging for some worms and had trouble putting the shovel into the pile. So, I dug around and found thick roots everywhere - but there were no trees nearby. I followed the roots and found they came from a big oak tree over 150 feet away. It was my first "ah-ha" moment about nature.
How did that tree know there was an extremely fertile patch of nutrients in the easement, far from its trunk? From then on, I was fascinated about nature and have studied it ever since. Eventually, it led me to start Nature's Way Resources.
Since those early days, numerous studies have found that leaves make the best compost … we copy the way God does it in nature. And when some grass cuttings, a little horse manure, and a few fruits and vegetables are added and slowly composted for a long period - over 18 months – the quality becomes even greater. Just like making a good wine or whiskey, it gets better with age.
The Leaf Mold name comes from the old English term leaf mould, describing a very slow breakdown of leaves from trees and shrubs into rich humus. The mixed source material provides a complete range of plant nutrients. And the extended time frame allows beneficial microbes to grow to extremely high levels in both total numbers and in species diversity, which increases effectiveness in disease control and prevention.
For over 24 years, our Leaf Mold Compost has been shown to make all plants grow stronger and healthier - from lawns and vegetable beds to fruit trees and more. It is available in various screened sizes for different applications.
Thousands of research papers outline the many, almost magic benefits of a good compost:
- The microbes in Leaf Mold Compost prevent and often cure common diseases, from damping off and brown patch to take-all patch and St. Augustine decline.
- Leaf Mold is full of plant nutrients, as well as trace minerals. Additionally, a cubic yard of the compost will have over 200 pounds of humus (humates). This encourages development of healthy populations of earthworms, beneficial insects and microorganisms, which then create good soil structure.
- Leaf Mold increases the moisture-holding capacity of all soils. It helps clay soil become more friable, and sandy soils to hold water and nutrients. As a bonus, it also buffers soils against extremes in acidity or alkalinity (high or low pH).
- Leaf Mold Compost is full of plant growth-promoting hormones and contains thousands of beneficial fungi that destroy pest nematodes and protect the roots of plants. When Leaf Mold Compost is used, plants develop wider, deeper and healthy root systems, which help plants tolerate drought and other stressful conditions. As a side benefit, we get more flowers or larger and better-tasting fruits and vegetables.