Fall time is here as we begin to watch the brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange leaves make their gentle descend towards the ground, blanketing our sidewalks and yards. While this makes for beautiful scenery, crafty gardeners know it’s time to start building those compost piles! Composting your fall leaves is a great way to be resourceful and ensure a healthy and prosperous garden come springtime.
Choose the Right Leaves
Although there are plenty of leaves falling this time of year, being able to choose the right kinds of leaves for your compost is crucial. For instance, Oak leaves tend to be more acidic than others and can be harmful to your compost pile. Waxy leaves are also too acidic for compost. Ideally, you need leaves that are high in nitrogen and calcium levels. Types of leaves such as maple, elm, ash, poplar, willow, and fruit.
When composting, making sure your leaves are thoroughly shredded is key. Whole leaves take longer to break down and decompose. Whole leaves also tend to bind together, blocking oxygen from flowing through your compost pile. Using a weed whacker or a pair of scissors can be suitable options for shredding, but may take longer. The most efficient way of shredding would be to rake your leaves into rows, run them over a few times with a lawnmower, then collect them after.
Add Your Source of “Green”
Seasoned gardeners now that without adding a source of Nitrogen or “green” to their compost pile, the leaves will remain in the same state. You can find Nitrogen in many ways. Fresh, green grass clippings are the easiest to find and use. Coffee grounds also work well (paper filter and all too!) and can be tossed into the pile. A good rule of thumb to remember is for every five-parts of leaf, there needs to be one-part “green”.
Pile, Turn and Keep it Damp
Lastly, with each compost pile, comes the maintenance required for it to reach the temperatures necessary for quick composting. Each pile should be no less than two cubic yards and layered with the “green” and leafy components. The pile should also be consistently turned every four to five days to prevent it from drying out. Turning also adds more oxygen to flow through the pile, reinvigorating the decomposition. Your compost also needs to remain moist. An ideal level of moisture would be similar to the consistency of a damp sponge.
With these tips, you’ll be composting soon enough. So get out there, start collecting, and enjoy the beauty of fall! Visit WaterMaster for all of your lawnmower and gardening supplies needs!