Autumn composting tips
Autumn is here once again and it’s time to think about tidying up the garden and preparing the soil ready for spring. Here are some tips to help:
1. Lovely leaves – leaves are carbon-rich and small enough to be easily incorporated into the compost. Small quantities are useful for balancing a heap with too many greens in it.
2. Rake up brown leaves or you could use a lawnmower to pick the leaves up - this shreds them and helps the composting process.
3. Too many leaves? Adding large quantities of fallen leaves to a compost bin can make the mixture too dry and possibly inactive. If you have too many leaves to put into your compost bin follow these steps to make leaf mould, an ideal way to dispose of them:
- Collect the leaves
- If the leaves are dry, moisten them with a little water.
- Bag up the leaves in a large bin bag and punch holes in it to allow the air to circulate. Place in a corner of the garden.
- Leave the bag or container untouched for between one and two years. The longer you leave it, the finer the leaf mould will be.
Using the leaf mould:
Young leaf mould, which is one to two years old, can be used as mulch around shrubs, herbaceous borders, trees and vegetables – just add it as a layer on top of existing soil.
- Soil improver
You can also dig young leaf mould into beds as a soil improver for sowing and planting.
- Sowing mix
Well rotted leaf mould that is two years old or more can be used to make a seed sowing mix. Combine equal parts of leaf mould, sharp sand and garden compost for an ideal growing medium.
For established plants, mix well rotted leaf mould that is over two years old with equal parts of sharp sand, garden soil and compost to make a perfect potting compost.
4. Store extra material - store dry autumn leaves in bags and keep one next to the compost bin. As kitchen scraps and other green materials are added during the winter months, a layer of leaves can be tossed on top. This helps balance the green materials and air the compost for faster results.
5. Save wood ash - if you have a wood-burning stove or heater, autumn is the time for cleaning out the ash box and chimney. Save the ashes from the stove box (but don't use the chimney sweepings) add them to the compost bin. Use only ash from clean materials and sprinkle onto compost to avoid clumping.