When it comes to your garden, Autumn is a chance to relax. You’re wrapping up your veggie garden and bidding adieu to your flowers. The leaves are starting to change colors and soon you’ll have everything tucked in and ready for the winter season.
Of course, if you want to use some of your newly found free time to prepare for the next growing season, why not start composting
Why Autumn Leaves Make Excellent (and Easy) Compost
Autumn leaves are one of the best ways to compost you can find. For one, they’re free and readily available. Secondly, you can create a nutrient rich compost with minimal effort.
Because they’re a mix of fresh and decomposing material, fall leaves create a natural nutrient balance that’s easy to maintain. You generally don’t have to worry about mixing in fertilizers or other store-bought compounds — as long as you combine a more-or-less even mix of freshly fallen leaves and more decomposed leaves, you’ll create a good balance of carbon and nitrogen, creating superb compost with almost no effort.
Below are some pointers to make your compost project a success!
Create an enclosure. Use fencing, pallets, or barrels to contain your compost pile. It should be big enough to work the pile. Something like 3’ x 3’ x 3’ should work nicely. Make sure there is proper aeration too! To make it even easier, buy a premade compost bin. Any way you do it, it should be simple to set up with minimal cost involved.
Fill ‘er up
Now that you have an enclosure, fill it up with the leaves you gathered. Ideally, you want a 1:1 ratio of fresh to decomposed leaves. You can supplement your pile with fresh kitchen scraps, grass clippings or small branches. Avoid animal products though. They harbor harmful bacteria, take longer to breakdown, and attract unwanted pests to the area.
Water and stir your pile every few days. Water to keep evenly moist but not soaked. Use a rake or shovel to stir things up. You can continue to add to the pile, just keep stirring! After a few weeks, you should notice your pile is beginning to feel warm to the touch when you mix it. This is what you’ve been waiting for! Heat means your compost is breaking down and progressing nicely. A few weeks later, you’ll see the compost take on the appearance of dark, rich soil! You’ve struck garden gold, baby!
Keep watering and stirring throughout the winter and early spring. The heat from the compost should make the pile manageable even when it’s freezing outside!
Spread the Love
You’ve done it! It’s midspring now and you can use your compost to fertilize your garden and flower beds. It will be packed with nutrients, pesticide-free, sustainable, and it won’t cost you a dime. You may be surprised by how well your garden grows, too — fall leaves are one of nature’s best types of compost.