Composting Leaves

Go Green by Composting Leaves

Autumn is the one season where most trees lose their ‘garment’, and it is the perfect time for composting leaves. Most of the time people simply sweep the leaves away and throw them into the ‘bio’ rubbish. But there is a great alternative! Those who want to make their own compost should definitely keep their leaves and there are two options to manufacture them.

One possibility is to make a pile of leaves and mix it with other biological garbage such as fruit peel, vegetable skin, egg shells etc.  The other option is to make a special type of compost: A pure leaf compost.

Leaf compost is one of the finest compost there is and has been used by gardeners for many years to produce well nourished soil for their flowers. Here is a quick guide to composting leaves successfully.

The main ingredients are obviously the leaves, but you may also add some gardening waste, lawn and animal manure. Liquid manure is also great to keep the mixture moist. The reason for adding other things is to achieve a good consistency and add some nutrition to the soil.

You will need a lawn-mower to shred as well as a pitchfork and a large pot in which you can produce the mixture.

While the leaves are still lying on the ground, shred them with the lawn-mower. This is not only to cut them into a useful size, but also to enable already dried leaves to absorb fluids later on. Some trees have water-repellent leaves and these can be softened by shredding them before proceeding.

Once this is done, collect the shredded leaves and put them in the pot or container you have chosen. 20% of the mixture should consist of gardening waste, lawn or fresh compost, and the previously mentioned ingredients can also be added at this point. Creating a mixture will ensure that the compost remains loose, and liquid manure will keep the soil damp.

Composting leaves from here is simple- all that is left to do is close the pot or container and wait for the winter to come. Just before the coldest period kicks in, open the container and have a look at the situation. If the compost has become dry you may want to add some fluid, and if it seems like it is sticking together you may need to add fresh compost or gardening waste to maintain the loose structure. After giving it a good stir you can close the container and repeat the check-up just before spring.

Composting leaves can be a little tiring, and an easier way is to simply not sweep the leaves away when they fall. You may want to clear the pedestrian walk and streets, but as far as your garden goes the leaves can just stay. They will protect the ground from frost during winter and nourish the earth. In fact, if you have sensitive plants such as vegetable and fruit, a blanket of leaves during the winter will enhance the chances of survival for their delicate roots. Snow, frost and rain will so the same job as liquid manure would do to the compost and the leaves will become absorbent and can transfer important nutrition to your plants. Hedgehogs, beetles, ants and other little garden residents will be happy to find shelter under the thick leave blanket and they will also eat the leaves up throughout the winter, so you won’t even have to do a spring- cleaning.

So if composting leaves is too much of an effort for you, it is possible to just let the leaves do their job and take care of your garden.