With the explosion in popularity of sustainable and organic gardening methods, homemade compost has become a regular feature of the home garden. The nutrients and beneficial organisms in compost enrich the soil, leading to healthier plants and bigger harvests. Compost improves soil drainage and helps balance pH. And making your own rather than buying compost at the local garden center saves you money!
The beauty of using fall leaves for compost is the simplicity of the process. While many DIY guides on composting spend a good deal of time talking about different composting containers, how often you need to turn your pile, and the ratio of green to brown matter, none of that is necessary for compost made solely of leaves!
All you have to do is shred the leaves and pile them somewhere where they won’t blow away but will get rained or snowed on. You may want to spray them down with some water at first to anchor them and once a month or so, and that’s it! In chilly Pennsylvania temperatures, some leaves on top may not decompose, but the middle of the pile will contain pure compost. Turning the pile once in a while will speed the composting along, but it is not necessary.
The only step you must take is shredding the leaves. Unshredded leaves will not break down and can damage in your garden, such as smothering out new growth. You can use a leaf blower on reverse setting to shred them or buy a commercial shredder at any garden center. The shredded leaves can also be used any time of year in your garden as a weed-suppressing mulch, with the added benefit of built-in compost as the leaves break down.
Any successful gardener will tell you compost is the key to healthy soil and plants. By using this simple method to make compost out of fall leaves, you can both save money and do right by your garden!