Leaves have always played a fun part in the lives of children. We all remember raking up leaves and jumping in the leave piles. Beyond that, many of us don’t remember what happened to the leaves after we’ve had our fun in them. Very few of us remember composting leaves or watching our parents composting leaves. Because the value of these leaves was not as familiar as it is today, leaves were often thrown out or left on the lawn. Things are much different today with the world all on a goal to help save the environment. Today composting leaves is a part of many people’s lives, not just for ecology but also as an excellent mulch and fertilizer for their garden.
Although many of us are unaware of this, tree leaves have more than double the amount on minerals as manure. In fact, approximately $50 worth of humus and plant food can be found in the leaves of a large shade tree. Because of the deep roots, the trees get their minerals from deep in the ground and a large part of these minerals goes into the leaves. If you have a lawn sweeper, collecting these leaves will be a breeze, otherwise; give your kids a treat and have them rake them in a pile. Either way, you’ll want to start composting leaves for some of the best soil your garden has ever seen. Composting leaves is so easy you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before.
As easy as composting leaves is for some, others complain that they have difficulty. Their biggest complaint is usually that the leaves don’t break down into compost as they expected. Two things that may help to make your composting leaves project more successful are to add nitrogen to your leaf mixture and shred or grind your leaves. The best nitrogen supplement is manure. Mixing a ratio of one part manure to five parts leaves will help your leaves to break down much quicker. If you live in an area where manure is unavailable, bone meal, dried blood or cottonseed works well. If you use the commercial substitutes mentioned, a wheelbarrow of leaves with two cups of mixture works well for successfully composting leaves.
Working with shredded leaves is much easier than whole leaves. You can make your compost pile any size you want but rectangular shaped piles seem to work best. Put down a layer of leaves approximately six inches deep, followed by a two inch layer of organic material. The organic material may be grass clippings, manure, garbage, or old vines from your garden. Ground corn cobs, straw or sawdust also work well with the above ingredients. Mix the leaves from time to time so they stay moist, but you don’t want them soggy. Turn or mix the pile around once a week and you’ll have an excellent collection of leave compost.