This is a great time of the year to take advantage of all of the debris from the garden and the leaves from the landscape and make something good for the garden — compost.
There is really no need to bag all of those leaves and have them go to a landfill. Fortunately, most communities have leaf and branch cleanup in the fall and will take your garden debris to someone who will compost the material.
I am in a situation where I would really like more leaves to compost. I have a fairly new property that was devoid of trees five years ago. I have several trees right now, but they aren’t producing leaves.
Most people would think I am crazy for wanting leaves but they are great for composting and putting back in the garden.
There are a few things you have to do to speed up the composting process for the leaves, but it’s really pretty easy.
If you don’t have an overwhelming amount of leaves, mow them when you mow the lawn this time of the year. This will cut them into much smaller pieces that will go back into the turf and break down, adding organic matter to your lawn.
In really shaded landscapes, if you have plenty of space, collect the leaves, dump them in a pile and run over them with the mower several times so that they will break down faster.
Large whole leaves take longer to break down and will not be ready to use in the landscape next season. Therefore, the smaller the leaf particle, the quicker they will be available to incorporate into the soil.
It’s not a good idea to incorporate large whole leaves into the soil as they will take longer to break down.
If you have more leaves than your landscape can handle, check to see if your community has some type of leaf collection where the leaves are taken to a compost facility.
Composting is a great way to get rid of your lawn and garden debris and is fairly easy to do. The science of composting is ensuring that you have the right materials in order for breakdown to occur. The art is mixing these materials together in the right amounts in order to speed up the process.
Mother Nature composts in the woodlands without doing anything. It just takes time. Human beings want to speed up the process to get to the end product quicker.
The right materials include green stuff (grass clippings and fresh green garden debris), brown stuff (woody and dry debris), water, oxygen, and microorganisms.
Next week I’ll share how to make “black gold” or the perfect compost.