Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Composting autumn leaves



Leaf mulch made from the leaves of my oak trees make an excellent mulch for acid-loving plants like hibiscus. My method is ridiculously easy . . . rake the leaves and place in a garbage bag (shredding the leaves is recommended, but not necessary), water the leaves before sealing the bag . . . and let it sit. The back of my storage sheds were the perfect spot to line them up and let them "age" . . . if you have the room, it is an excellent use of those leaves.


Leaves are also an excellent source for the compost pile, if you have one. The following is an article on the process of adding leaves to the pile . . .




This article is a repost from eHow


Think about shredding leaves before you compost them. Shredded leaves are much easier to turn in a compost pile. These leaves will also break down much faster than whole leaves. You don't need to shred leaves, but it's easily done by running over them with a lawn mover.


Add your leaves to your compost pile. You should try to bury the new compost material deep into the pile, just like you do when you add any new material to it. Covering the leaves will help the compost pile turn into soil quickly.


See if you need to add manure or a supplement to your compost. If you have a new compost pile, a supplement like bone meal or manure can help speed the compost process. These materials are rich in nitrogen, which is essential for the natural composting process.


Turn your compost pile every 4 or 5 days. Using a manure fork, mix the compost so that the material that was on the top is now shifted into the middle of the pile. Also try to bring some of the compost from the bottom up to the top of the pile. Turning is much easier when the leaves are shredded before they are put into the pile.


Consider putting a tarp over your compost pile during the late autumn and winter. This tarp will help keep heat in the compost pile and keep moisture out of it. You'll still need to turn the pile every week.




TIPS AND WARNINGS:


There's really no limit on how many leaves you can put in a compost pile. If you want to add all the leaves in your yard, you'll really need to shred them first and add a nitrogen supplement to them to be sure that they all turn into compost.


Save some of the shredded leaves to insulate your perennials during winter. Shredded leaves can also be saved and used as mulch in the spring.


Add a tall wire fence around your compost pile. You need to keep animals like skunks and raccoons out of your compost pile. A fence is especially important if you are putting food scraps in your pile.


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