Composting Fallen Leaves
One of my pet peeves with urban living is the lack of options for disposing of yard waste, particularly leaves and grass.
Using some very simple composing techniques, you can make your lawn and garden almost completely self contained. You’ll rarely have to send bulky, guilt-ridden yard waste to the dumps and will have excellent, rich compost available for your flower and vegetable garden.
It only takes a few basic ingredients to get your successful sustainable urban composting project going, and most of them you probably have already. Find out the easy steps to turning lawn debris into garden gold, right here:
- Bagger / Mulching Lawn mower
- Vegetable Garden or a spot to put one in the spring.
- One big, honkin’ Compost Heap (3.5 CU Yards)
The one thing you probably donít have is the big, honkin’ compost heap, so for very simple instructions on how to make one for yourself, visit my website at pacific sands.
One nice future of our cheapie heap is that itís sort of portable between seasons. Iím seriously lazy, so I stick the thing in the middle of the garden for the winter so I donít have far to haul the compost come spring. Note: if this is your first year in the process, you may want to toss a little straw or broken up corn stalks at the bottom of your heap to keep some air space in there and allow for drainage.
The first thing I do for fall composting is pull out all of the remaining plant stalks and toss them in the middle of the garden. Anything that looks hinkey or diseased goes in the garbage or out to the county to get burned. Iíve never had a problem with bad bacteria or fungi breeding in the heap, but why take the chance if you donít have to. Now we apply the key urban composting ingredient -
The mulcher / bagger lawnmower.
Fire that mower up and run that big pile of dead garden stuff over until itís all sucked up in the bag. Your mower is going to make an awful racket doing this, but you will be AMAZED at how small all that stuff gets. Dump the bag into the heap, scoop a thin layer of dirt over it and cast your eyes on all those leaves in the lawn.
MAKE EM SMALL. Run them over with the lawn mower, mulch them, bag them and transport them all with one simple tool. If you have a particularly thick layer of leaves, run the mower across the lawn a couple of times with the bagger unattached and get them a little smaller to start with. Your bag is going to fill up really fast, but donít despair. Remember all the work youíre saving by not having to rake, bag, carry, etc. Dump them into the heap and add a thin layer of dirt every six inches or so. Donít skip this step as the soil provides important bacteria that will vastly accelerate the mulching process. Water the heap thoroughly and pull up on the sides to keep it uniform and straight.
Add the usual kitchen scraps to the heap over the course of the winter and toss a little dirt over it once in awhile if you can. Between the garden leftovers, leaves, and whatever grass that came up with them, you should have a very evenly balanced compost that will be ready in the spring when it warms up to spread through your garden and put around plantings.
By Mick Wynhoff, an environmental products marketing consultant and self-proclaimed "Eco Geek."