Shredded leaf mulch - is it hydrophobic?

I am using shredded leaf mulch on some of my vegetables and fruits. It seems that it is rather hydrophobic - after watering or rain it is often dry under the surface. So what I can’t determine is if the water runs through without “wetting” the leaves, but still enters the soil, or just runs off entirely.

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BOTH It can be a real pain. I had a pile of it in fall and when I moved it in summer I found my drill and battery bone dry and working.

Soil itself is hydrophobic if you let it dry up. If you keep the soil with adequate amounts of humidity natural evaporation should keep it from getting crunchy.

Heck this is not necessarily a bad quality; if it doesn’t let humidity in it is also not letting humidity out. As long as water is getting to the soil underneath and not running off you are golden.

Don, I just ran the sprinkler for one hour, putting down the equivalent of 1 inch of water. It’s completely dry 1/4” down into the mulch.

The soil under the mulch has some moisture, but I think that’s residual. I’m pretty sure almost 100% of the water actually ran off.

It’s bad enough that I’m considering removing it all.

I see. I use water lines that deliver the water where it needs to go. Mulching then keeps it there. Using a sprinkler system certainly it less effective

If you make leaf mold, it usually can stay nice and damp much more readily than fresh leaf mulch.

For the future if you want to make leaf mold, collect fresh leaves, run them over with a lawn mower, and put them in a pile or geobin, water (or better yet pee on) it over a season.

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