Compost is rich in nutrients and a great addition to your next vegetable garden.
Sometimes, we have the opportunity to do something that is simply the right thing to do! Well, composting various waste materials in the fall, and using the product in your garden to enrich the soil, certainly is one of those right things to do. Composting can be done almost without any costs, using recycled wire or wood. You can also purchase some fairly decent priced gadgets that may assist with your composting project. It’s completely up to you which route to take. Read on to learn more about the benefits of fall composting and helpful tips to get your started.
Stainless steel compost bin with charcoal filter to control odors
Much normal household waste may be composted. This including kitchen wastes like vegetable and fruit peels, egg shells and coffee grounds, collected in a small bucket or compost bin, and even paper and cardboard.
By far, the most abundant material for composting in the fall is leaves. The placement of leaves into a landfall is nothing short of shameful, and burning leaves is a great waste that even pollutes the air we breathe.
So, lets take a look at composting leaves. The leaf compost pile should be started on bare ground and should be at least three feet in diameter. A shaded area is good, but not a necessity. A disadvantage of shade is that under trees, the roots tend to grow up into the compost making it difficult to remove the finished product or to turn the pile. The chosen compost area should be fairly well-drained and should not be directly under the overhang of a building.
Most gardening professionals will recommend that the pile be turned or stirred every few weeks. This is where most homeowners fail with their composting. Turning a nice pile of composting leaves is quite the chore. The recommendation I’ve heard is to let Father time take care of this.
A properly constructed compost pile will completely compost in a year without turning.
The key to having a continual supply of compost is to start now and be patient. After the first year, compost will be available for the garden and to use in the layering process next year. A very efficient method is to place a 4-5 foot diameter circle of concrete reinforcing wire around the layered pile. A simple box constructed from recycled wood pallets also works well.
The rule of thumb for fall composting is to simply keep dry and wet materials in about a four to one ratio to create rich humus. Remember to add two to three inches of soil over each layer.
Wet Material = Green Layers
- includes kitchen waste, green leaves, grass clippings, etc.
- decays rapidly
- may have foul odors if not covered with soil
- tend to accumulate in spring/summer
- supplies nitrogen
Dry Material = Brown Layers
- includes wood chips, brown leaves, small branches, cardboard, etc.
- decays very slowly
- coarse browns like sticks can keep layers aerated
- tend to accumulate in the fall
- may need to stockpile
There are many composting devices on the market like the Yimby Tumbler Composter you see here with over 1,000 positive reviews. Purchased round drums are excellent for small yards since they are limited in their capacity. Although, the frequent turning will produce the finished product much quicker than the ‘on the ground’ method described above.
Many composting containers of different sizes and costs are available online or from your local gardening supplier. You should evaluate your needs and the space required before making the decision to purchase composting containers.
The rewards to composting in the fall are plenty, it recycles waste, improves the soils by creating humus, reduces the need for chemicals and adds nutrients to your spring garden. Whichever container size or composting method you choose, your future vegetables and flowers will certainly respond well to the addition of compost to your planting beds.
You can learn more about the benefits of fall composting on the Home Composting Made Easy website. They offer step-by-step instructions, products and resources for backyard composting. Included are richly illustrated instructions and tips on over 25 topics.
Do you have any fall composting tips you’d like to add? Leave us a comment below.