Fall Composting Tips
Posted: Sep 13 2019
If you live in a rural environment or have a large backyard, you may utilize a compost pile or bin. Compost is nutrient rich, helps retain water, lightens the soil and is very effective to use as a lawn fertilizer, in your garden and flower beds.
According to Earth Easy, "The key to successful composting is maintaining a balance between carbon and nitrogen materials in the compost bin. A healthy compost pile should have about two-thirds carbon (brown) materials and one-third nitrogen (green) materials. The carbon-rich materials provide aeration to speed up the composting process, eliminate foul odors, and help produce a light, fluffy finished compost."
Common nitrogen (green) materials include: grass clippings, kitchen scraps, vegetable and fruit peelings, coffee grounds
Common carbon (brown) materials include: leaves, vines, branches, shrub prunings, finished annuals from the flower and vegetable garden, shredded paper
For those who compost, nitrogen rich materials are available year round, however carbon rich materials are more difficult to gather in the winter, spring and summer. In the fall, materials rich in carbon are in abundance, providing the perfect opportunity to gather and store carbon rich materials which will benefit your compost all year long.
Fall Composting Tips
Gather leaves and grass clippings
Fresh grass clippings are nitrogen rich and act as compost activators. Add grass clippings to your compost in thin layers to avoid matting. In order to balance the carbon nitrogen ration (1/3 nitrogen to 2/3 carbon), you will then need to add double the volume in brown materials.
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Collect the skeletons of finished annuals
If you have a vegetable garden, once the plants have finished producing and harvest is completed, collect them for composting. For larger plants, cut into smaller pieces to make composting easier. It is not advisable to compost the root mass or any diseased plants. Also leave out thick stems and branches.
If you have flowering annuals, they can also be added to your compost pile. Trim back your fall perennials once they turn brown.
Separate materials into two piles for layering
Earth Easy recommends sorting your compost materials into two separate piles: coarse materials (stalks, finished annuals from the garden, branches and shrub prunings) and finer material (leaves, grass clippings and smaller garden debris).
Add leaves in small batches to the compost bin
In order to avoid leaves matting together, add in small batches to the compost pile.
Save extra carbon-rich materials for future use
If you have space, store dry leaves collected in the fall to use throughout the year to add to the compost pile to maintain the carbon/nitrogen balance.
When adding materials to your compost, don't forget to keep the proper carbon nitrogen balance in mind (1/3 nitrogen to 2/3 carbon).
Check out our Blog, "Composting: Frequently Asked Questions" for more information on composting.
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