Tips for Composting in the Fall
The fall months is one of the best time to compost because of the abundance of leaves that (available) falls from trees. Plant materials such as dead annual plants and plant parts are natural organics once decomposed or broken down will recycle nutrients back into the soil which is beneficial for plants’ health. But the fun does not stop there.
Grass clippings along with kitchen scraps such as veggie and fruit peel scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds can be added to your compost pile as well. Preparing your compost pile for springtime will give your garden plants a delightful treat as they kick the growing season off to a good start.
The added nutrients will give your plants a boost to perform their best as you reap a bountiful harvest, for more on fall composting continue reading to find out how it’s done.
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1. The Use of Leaves and Grass Clippings
The use of leaves and grass clippings added to your compost pile is of great benefits, plant leaves are rich in carbon, and grass clippings are nitrogen-rich which will help to activate your compost. Once the leaves turn brown you can rake them up and add them to your compost. To avoid matting to your compost as you add the grass ensure that the grass is added in thin layers.
Remember to leave about 2-3 layers of leaves around your shrub, trees, and ornamental plants because leaves can act as mulch along with helping to insulate your plant’s roots during the cold winter months and as the leaves break down can add nutrients to the soil. However, when building your compost add two times the volume in brown materials to bring balance to the ratio of carbon-nitrogen.
2. The Use of Spent or dead Annuals
The material parts of vegetables that have been harvested can be collected for compost and spent or dead annuals that are free of disease can be tossed into the compost pile as well. Because branches and stems take a longer time to break down should be left out of your compost. Plant materials that are large should be cut into smaller pieces to make composting easier
3. Begin to Separate your Materials
The plant materials that are collected should be grouped into two separate piles, one pile is for grass clippings, leaves, and small garden debris the second pile is for coarse or harder materials such as plant parts that have been pruned.
As you begin to fill your compost bin keep adding in equal portions of brown materials such as twigs, shredded paper, leaves, etc… and the green material like kitchen scraps.
4. Securing your Compost Pile
A compost pile that’s left out in the open should be moist and covered with a tarp, keep the pile from becoming waterlogged. The better choice however is an enclosed composter that will retain moisture and keep out pets and rodents.
Note: It takes normally 4-6 months before you can see the finished product or before composting is completed.
If there are too many leaves to add to your compost pile then consider composting the leaves by themselves, the pile can be 2-3 feet high and 4 feet in diameter. Ensure that the pile is damp not waterlogged. Add a layer of dirt between each foot of leaves also add moisture that will help in the breakdown of the leaves. Covering your compost pile with a piece of plastic sheet will help to keep excess moisture out. Rocks can be placed at the edges of the sheet to keep the sheet in place so it doesn’t move out of position.
What All Can I Add to My Compost Pile
- Grass Clippings
- Wood chips
- Kitchen scraps such as leftover garden herbs, vegetables, and fruits
- Saw Dust
- Houseplants that are discarded
- Cotton cloth
- Yard Trimmings
- Fireplace ashes (wood ashes only)
- Shredded paper
- Shredded newspaper
- Paper coffee filters
- Nutshells except walnut shells
- Cardboard that is torn up into small pieces
Tools for Composting
- A bucket: Can help to collect straps
- A Rake: Can be used to collect leaves and grass clippings
- Compost tumbler: Is easy to keep down bad odors, speeds up the process of decomposition, and will keep out rodents and pets
- Compost bin: This is a container that can also help with composting, a compost bin will keep the area neat while speeding up decomposition along with keeping rodents and pets out
- A hand cultivator or hand trowel: Will help to work food scraps easily in compost pile
- Compost sifters: Used to remove large pieces that have not been completely broken down
- Compost thermometers: Will help you to know the amount of heat that is in your compost bin as it heats up
- Wheelbarrow: Can be used to carry materials to your compost bin and to carry compost once it’s completed to your garden areas
- Aerator: Will help to keep the microbes in your bin healthy and active
- Pitchfork or a shovel: Can help to remove the finished product and for harvesting
- Gloves: Will keep your hands protected as you work your compost pile
- Watering can or Garden hose: To help keep your compost moist if it gets too dry
The Benefits of Adding Compost to Your Soil
- Composting will improve soil structure
- Improves moisture uptake and moisture retention
- Attracts soil microbes
- Increase the activity of soil microbes
- Reduce the need for fertilizers
- Can reduce the need to use pesticides
- Reduces the potential for soil erosion
- Reduces waste
The final word on composting during the fall
Creating a compost pile during the fall is a great way to prepare for the spring months, our garden plants can use our help at our fingertips is a gold mine (leaves and grass clipping) that is just waiting to be tapped into. Composting is a gardener’s treasure that has so many benefits and the best part is it’s all free. It will not cost you a dime to build a compost pile. All natural and full of nutrients your compost which is a gardener’s dream will keep your garden soil and plants healthy which will lead to reaping a good harvest.
About the author
Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.