To anyone with a green thumb, or even to anyone who cares about their lawn management, it can seem a bit counter-intuitive to spend all of the autumn seasons stuffing plastic bags full of leaves. And it is! There are much better, and easier, methods of dealing with the autumnal leaf fall. One of these methods is composting these leaves, especially when they are composted in a strategic manner. Thus, not only do you have less clean up work with less single-use plastics, but you also set up a healthier garden environment to work in once springtime comes. Composting leaves is a fantastic way to increase garden health with a ton of benefits.
The Benefits of Composting your Leaves
Using your fallen leaves to create a blanket or quilt over your plants helps to insulate them from the harshness of the winter cold. This can diminish snow or frost damage, as well as help regulate their temperature. In addition, as the leaves compost, they release nutrients back into the soil, such as carbon and nitrogen, which is extremely good for any plants in the area. This process creates a darker, healthier, and more nutrient-rich soil. Letting the leaves compost on top of your garden also can loosen up hard-packed earth and repel weeds. Finally, a compost layer can retain moisture better than other top layers, thus keep plants better hydrated. Undoubtedly, there are a plethora of benefits to composting leaves, but how is it done?
Compost Leaves: A How-To
First, you need a designated area for composting. Most people think that you need a designated and specialized bin for this purpose, but that is not true. In reality, all you need is a place for it. Some people compost in a pile, whereas some people use a compost bin. It is really a matter of personal preference and property limitations than anything else. Regardless of the space, you are using, there are a few guidelines to abide by. First, air needs to be introduced to the compost intermediately, as it is needed to help the microbes that are decomposing the material to do so effectively. a temperature of at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 degrees Celsius is also recommended, as it is hard for microbes to survive in temperatures colder than that.
You can compost without a bin at all. Using a lawn mower or tractor, you can chop leaves into smaller pieces and then spread them over a garden bed or farm plot. It is recommended that you chop up the leaves because the smaller pieces will decompose faster. Mowed grass trimmings also make a great addition to compost that is laid on top of a garden. Make sure that before composting in either manner, you understand the balance and exchange of carbon and nitrogen to make sure that your garden has a favourable balance.
Despite the best practices and intentions, sometimes problems can occur while composting. For instance, diseased leaves can find their way into your compost pile or garden plot. In the winter, it can be difficult to reach high enough temperatures to kill these pathogens. Thus, these pathogens could be introduced to garden plots which can cause serious complications over time. Another issue that can occur is an unbalanced compost pile: one that is heavy in either carbon or nitrogen. This is an easier to remedy issue than the prior one, if it is diagnosed before use and not added to gardens. Hopefully, this article provided a quick overview on the why and how of leaf composting.