Saturday, November 22, 2008

Leaf Eater

We’ve been busy the last two weeks – hording fallen leaves faster than a squirrel hordes nuts.

We shredded and bagged fallen leaves with our trusty old Lawn Boy. Then we dumped the shreddings into the compost bin. We also piled leaves next to the bin. Next summer I’ll add a layer of leaves to the bin every now and then.

Our compost bin is full and I’m a happy gardener. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to make a gardener happy.

I have to admit I’m lazy when it comes to making compost. I don’t obsess over percentage of green versus brown or nitrogen/carbon ratios. My grandmother made compost before we knew about the carbon/nitrogen ratio.

I use garden waste, kitchen vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and leaves. I add a little water from time to time. I add a little soil sometimes to discourage gnats. I turn it once in a while.

I know the proper mix helps the pile break down faster but I’m not in a hurry. Fortunately, I can pick up finished compost at the city compost center.

Doug Green has some good information on cold composting. If you want to take it a step further, Doug’s hot composting explains how to heat up the pile for quicker compost.

Virginia Cooperative Extension and Purdue University Extension have more in-depth instructions.

Compost is great for the garden and improving the soil. It keeps yard waste out of the land fill. I also use it to make compost tea.

Is it worth the effort? I can only comment on my garden. Over the years my garden soil has become dark and loamy. Plants thrive. And, the price is right -- free.
It’s a deal that’s too good for me to pass up.


Chandramouli S said...

That's a horde of leaves to nourish a large part of your garden I guess, but I don't know about composting. I do it in a really small open space and all I know is I've been adding organic junk to it and waiting patiently...

Marie said...

Hi Chandramouli,

As my pile turns to compost it gets much smaller. I never have too much - does anyone? :-)

I will have about a wheelbarrow full in spring. I will only have enough to compost most of the front garden. I make compost tea to make the compost go farther.

If gardening teaches us anything, it teaches us patience.

Anonymous said...

Marie, I think you have the same attitude has most gardeners. You can really "break down everything" excuse the compost related pun into way greater detail than necessary. If your compost is decomposing in a timely fashion and your plants are staying healthy after using the compost, I'd say keep up the good work!!