NATURAL resources, don’t ya just love them – especially when they’re free? So make the most of a huge gift that’s
currently blowing about in gardens across the country.
Autumn leaves are rich in nutrients and are ideal in compost. Sweep them up, pile them on – and if you don’t already have a compost heap under way, now is as good a time as any to start.
You can buy a composting bin or build your own compost box – but really, any spare bit of ground would probably do as long as you’re not too fussy about the compost heap being out of sight. If you can’t face the prospect of raking up the seemingly endless flurries of leaves on the grass, why not use your lawnmower? Shredded leaves decompose more quickly – and if your lawnmower gathers the cuttings up for you, then all the better.
Grass cuttings, of course, will add extra bulk to your compost and if you feel up to carrying out a thorough autumn garden clear-up, the contents of old flower pots and planters, and the dead vegetation from your flower beds can thrown on, too.
If you’ve been left with the residue from a Guy Fawkes bonfire, you can shovel up the ashes and put those into your composting bin while you’re at it – they’re a good source of fibre and carbon.
Depending on the scale of your leaf-gathering, you might end up with too many leaves for your bin. Make leaf mulch with these by sticking them into a plastic bag with a few holes in it and leave it for a year or two to decompose. You can add the mulch to potting compost or spread it over the surface of your flower bed to keep weeds at bay.
You can put most organic materials on your compost heap, but never add meat, fish or dairy products this can attract vermin. Cooked vegetables and diseased plants should also be kept out as they can spoil your compost mix.
Once you’ve tucked your composting materials in for the night, what next? Well, very little, really, apart from adding fresh material as it comes to hand. Once a fortnight or so, you should give the compost a good poke with a stick to turn it. This lets in air and speeds up the decomposing process.
Composting makes sense not only because it’s free, but also because it’s kinder to the environment. When organic waste goes to landfill, air can’t get to it so, as it breaks down, methane – a harmful greenhouse gas which
damages the atmosphere is produced. However, when waste is composted above ground at home, oxygen helps it to decompose aerobically which means no methane is produced. Which is great news for the planet.
Start composting now and within 9-12 months you’ll have a valuable free resource for the garden.. and the satisfaction of knowing that this one little gesture is another step along the path to sustainability.