Sunday, November 23, 2008

How to Make Compost Out of All Those Leaves

Pound per pound, leaf compost or mold as it is called, is the best soil additive you can use. Best of all, it is free and provided by nature! This article will describe in detail how to make your own leaf mold to help enrich your garden soil.

Gather fall leaves and rake them into a corner of your yard or other area where you can place a wire mesh fence around the area to prevent leaves from blowing away. You may also gather and place fall leaves in a plastic barrel. You may run the leaves through a shredder to make the decomposition time faster, but this is not necessary. Once you have gathered your pile, wet the leaves down. It is ideal to place the bin or barrel out in the elements so that you don't have to rely entirely upon your water hose to keep the leaves moist. Be patient, this process takes many months. Depending upon where you reside, this can take anywhere from 6 months to several years. Give the leaves a good stir from time to time to ensure even distribution of the moisture. If you are having trouble retaining moisture in your bin or barrel, you may remember to line the container with plastic the next time you collect leaves. You can also cover the container with a tarp. Another way to create leaf mold is to use plastic garbage bags or biodegradable leaf bags. Simply fill the bags with compressed leaves. If using plastic garbage bags, cut a few small slits in the bags to allow excess water drainage and allow air to come in. Wet the leaves down while in the bag. Close the bag up and shake bags from time to time to distribute the water. After your leaves have decomposed into a material that looks like soil, you are ready to use the leaf mold in your garden.

Now, How to Store Those Leaves to Use Later

Leaves are by far the best soil additive we can use. Leaves add bulk and nutrients to our soil. In addition, beneficial earth worms love shredded leaves. This article will outline some ways to store leaves for future use in your garden. God gave us these leaves to use, lets use them wisely.

One way to store leaves is to rake all your leaves into your garden or flower beds. Proceed to wet all the leaves down to prevent them from blowing away easily. Remember to keep the leaves wet until you plan to use them. You can place mesh fencing around your garden to prevent flyaways.

Another way to store leaves is to place the leaves in biodegradable leaf bags. You can either: (1) choose to leave these bags full of leaves out in the weather so that you will have a composted mixture to use in your garden or (2) you may fill the bags and store in a dry area. These bags will also decompose into leaf compost over time if left out in the elements.
Create a compost bin with heavy wire mesh in a corner of your yard. Dump leaves into the bin and keep wet. Over time, a super rich soil additive will be created by natural decompostion processes. This is called leaf mold. Leaf mold is the best natural fertilizer you can find, by far.
You may also create a compost bin using large plastic barrels. Be sure to wet the leaves down every so often. Purchase or rent a leaf shredder and shred the leaves into fine pieces and store in garbage bags. Place in a dry area. Shredding the leaves will greatly reduce the volume so that you can store more leaves with less bags.

Don't Burn Those Freakin Leaves!!!!

Now that fall is on full swing upon us, you may be wondering just what to do with all those leaves. As you know more and more people are finding it necessary to "go green" and thinking more about organic foods. Fall leaves can be used for many things, one of which is as a mulch or soil enhancer in your garden. Leaves are naturally full of nutrients and are also food for many beneficial garden bugs. So lets stop throwing away our leaves and piling up plastic gargage bags full of them next to our curb on trash pick up day. Put them to good use in your garden.

We have repeated the following steps for the last couple of years. The results have been very noticable in our garden. Our soil was once very hard dirt and is now a rich loamy texture - great for vegetable growing.

Put on your gloves and workboots. I recommend shielding your face from the sun with a wide brimmed hat. To burn optimal calories, I recommend making this a manual process. No heavy machinery involved until we get to the tilling part. NO cheating by using lawn mowers or ATV's with trailers to haul the leaves. If burning calories is not something you are concerned with, go ahead, use a leaf blower to direct the leaves into your garden. Using your rake, begin to pile your wheelbarrow full of fall leaves. Make several trips to your garden with your wheelbarrow full of leaves. Dump the leaves randomly throughout your garden. You should have between three to six inches of leaves spread evenly across your garden before tilling. Using your garden tiller, begin to till the leaves into the soil. Work the leaves into the top six inches of soil.
As the leaves begin to decompose into the soil, the nutrients will be released. The beneficial garden bugs will be happy as will your vegetables! There are several ways to store the leaves for later use if you don't want to use the leaves immediately. I will discuss this in the next article.