Environmentalists have recommended composting as a sustainable way of life, for many years now. Not only is it extremely beneficial for Mother Nature, but it is a great way of saving money. On top of that, compost is a thousand times better than any chemical fertilizer, to improve the quality of your garden visibly.
Composting also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and infuses the soil with nutrients and minerals. The process includes using a variety of organic materials found in every household, significantly reducing the amount of waste generated by a single home. In our article, we will tell you how to compost leaves, a basic component that makes for excellent compost.
Any person with a respectable garden will have fallen leaves lying on the ground, all year round. While fallen leaves decompose naturally into the soil, they can be collected and put to better use. Dead leaves and twigs are an essential part of any compost; this ensures that no part of your garden goes to waste.
Before we start talking about how to compost leaves, let us take a look at all the substances you can turn into compost. Any compost consists of three major components.
Basic Materials Required For Composting
1. Green Materials
Green materials mainly include fruit and vegetable scraps, kitchen wastes, eggshells, used coffee filters and grounds, etc. Be careful not to include dairy products, meat or fish bones and excess fats, as they might attract small animals and insects. Green materials are a good source of nitrogen, and they enrich the compost with beneficial minerals.
2. Brown Materials
Browns are usually dead, organic and biodegradable materials, including dry leaves, twigs, newspapers, wood chips, and so on. These materials add substance, and provide carbon to your compost mix. They also allow airflow into the compost.
It is important to keep your compost moist as it aids in the decomposition of the organic materials. To achieve perfect compost, keep watering your mix consistently but make sure that it does not turn soggy.
Now that you know what goes into a compost, let us move on to composting leaves. A good balance between browns, greens and water is essential for making a healthy and effective compost. In case, your compost is taking too much time to form, the trick is to add greens to it. Similarly, if your compost starts to smell bad, it is probably time to add more browns.
Keep adding your ingredients accordingly until your compost has a dark brown, earthy colour and doesn’t smell. Leaves fall into the browns category, and are very easy to turn into nutrient-rich compost. Our steps to make compost out of leaves can be carried out either in a compost bin or a pile.
How To Compost Leaves
1. Step 1
First, you need to collect all the leaves available in your garden and shred them into smaller pieces. The easiest way to do this is to run them through your lawnmower. Smaller pieces will make for a shorter decomposition period.
2. Step 2
Put the shredded leaves into the compost bin of your choice, or the designated composting area in your garden. Cover the leaves with a layer of nitrogen-rich green materials like fruit scraps, tea bags, grass trimmings, etc.
3. Step 3
The third step is to start layering your greens and browns alternately. As mentioned before, leaves are a brown material, so greens should immediately follow every layer of leaves. Try and maintain a ratio of 4:1 for the browns to greens mixture in your compost, as this will make adjusting the compost much easier.
4. Step 4
You have to give your compost a good mix occasionally. Regular turning and mixing ensures better compost development and equal decomposition of all the organic materials. Try to mix your compost at least once a month, as this will also speed up the composting process.
5. Step 5
Finally, all that is left to do is monitor your compost regularly. Frequent tracking will allow you to determine any problems your developing compost might have. For instance, if your compost is too dry, the solution is to add more green materials to it.
As you can tell, the steps for composting leaves are really simple and require no extra effort. There is nothing stopping you from starting your very own batch of leaf compost. However, there are a few things that you need to remember while composting leaves.
Factors To Look Out For While Composting Leaves
1. The Right Time To Compost Leaves
There are no time restrictions when it comes to composting leaves. However, it is advisable that you don’t start on your compost during winter. This is because the decomposition process stops during winter, due to lower temperatures.
If you are putting together your leaf compost somewhere near winter, you should take measures to ensure that it is well insulated. Without the requisite amount of heat, your compost will most likely develop poorly.
2. A Balance Between Greens And Browns
We have already mentioned this before, but you know it is important if we are making a separate point of it. A balance of green and brown material is crucial to the proper development of your compost. We recommend four parts of carbon-rich brown materials to one part of nitrogen-rich green materials for good results.
There are no definite measures for the materials. Keep adding your browns and greens as required when your compost starts forming. Just remember that brown materials make for dryness, substance and the characteristic earthy smell of compost while green materials are for moisture and nutrients.
3. Leaves To Use For Composting
When you are collecting leaves for your compost, make sure to check for any diseases that the plants might have. Diseased leaves contain pathogens and will spread these pathogens throughout the mixture while composting. It is also best to avoid leaves from plants that have been treated with chemical fertilizers, as the chemicals will contaminate your compost.
Keeping these suggestions in mind will ensure that your compost is healthy and full of beneficial nutrients. Leaf compost can also be used as a replacement for soil, and it enhances the growth of your plants. It has all the features of a good fertilizer, and then some more.
Leaves yield a rich organic compost, which has good moisture-retaining capacities and prevents the growth of weeds. Needless to say, it acts as a health supplement for your plants and enriches your garden. Following our easy steps will help you obtain a nourishing compost that will benefit both the environment and your garden.