Those beautiful autumn leaves have blown from the trees. Now they're just unsightly brown masses in your lawn and other places you don't want them.
Don't fret and don't burn. Simply build a compost pile and recycle these leaves into valuable organic matter.
When you're cleaning up the garden, yard or flowerbeds, too, don't forget that almost all of that can be added to the compost pile.
It's easier and cheaper to compost those materials than to have the government pick them up. Since yard trimmings were banned from landfills in September 1996, all Georgians should be practicing home composting.
As a soil amendment, compost improves both the physical condition and fertility of the soil. It's especially useful for improving Georgia soils that are low in organic matter. Although some nutrients will be derived from compost, its main benefit is improving soil characteristics.
Here are some simple composting rules to follow.
- The best activator for compost is old compost.
- Use almost any organic material -- leaves, grass
clippings, hay, straw, some weeds,
chopped corn cobs, corn stalks. Use kitchen scraps, too,
except for animal fat and bones.
Avoid weeds and grass with seed heads, too.
- Good kitchen scraps for the compost pile include
coffee and tea grounds, peelings of
vegetables and fruits, canning by-products such as
tomato peels and cores, eggshells and
corn husks. These kitchen scraps and others are
completely degradable in the compost pile
within 4-6 weeks.
- Don't make the compost pile smaller than 3 feet wide
by 3 feet high. That's too small to
heat up and decompose the material properly. It is best
not to go more than 5 feet by 5
feet by 5 feet deep, either
courtesy Texas A&M
|OPEN SIDED edging, like this fencing, allows plenty of air to circulate through your compost pile, yet keep it contained. Good circulation, water and 'food' keeps your pile composting, even through the winter. For the quickest results, turn the pile frequently to keep it well mixed and aerated.|
- The sides of the compost bin should allow free air
movement into the material. The best
siding material is probably 2-inch by 4-inch fencing 3
feet high. If you don't want to use
anything, just pile up the material. It will still
- You don't have to build the pile all at once. Begin by
spreading an 8-inch to 12-inch
layer of organic material. On top of this, spread one
cup of complete garden fertilizer or
a couple of shovelfuls of manure. You can also add a
light layer of soil. Continue to
alternate these layers, watering each thoroughly. Keep
the pile moist but not soggy --
like a wrung-out sponge.
- You will speed the decomposition if you turn the pile
every few weeks. If you don't
choose to turn or can't do it, don't worry. The
decomposition will just be slower.
- Compost is ready to use when it turns dark and becomes crumbly. Finished compost will have lost much of its original identity and will have an earthy smell. Normally, it takes five to eight months to finish compost, depending on the material used and the heat and moisture available during the composting.
When the compost is ready, apply it to garden soil at about 4 bushels per 100 square feet, or 2 inches deep over the area.