I'm A Leaf Thief And A Composting King
Every autumn, home owners rake up their leaves, place them in bags and put them out on the curb. Every autumn I gas up my mini-van, drive around my neighborhood and steal them. Im a skilled leaf thief and can usually fill the van two or three times in a weekend. Unlike regular thieves, I dont fence the goods on the black market because the leaves are more valuable to me and to my garden. Leaves are a great ingredient for making compost and gardeners cant get enough of them.
I had to include this article because I've done this exact same thing. I had to wonder if I was the only one that did it.
A person becomes a leaf thief because you can only produce so much yard waste on your own. You rake up your leaves, mow your lawn, clean up your flower and vegetable beds and it just isnt enough yard waste to make compost for a moderate sized garden. Remember that after its decomposed itll be a lot smaller. So when I see people throwing out this excellent garden resource I have to take the law into my own hands.
Not only is compost a nutrient rich soil amendment but its also a great soil enhancer. It can loosen up hard clay soil and itll allow sandy soil to retain more water. Compost can be used as a replacement for fertilizers and will also improve pH balance and soil fertility. And all of this means that you will have healthier plants and a nicer looking garden.
To make compost for the garden youll need to collect Browns (carbon-rich) and Greens (nitrogen-rich). Fill your compost bin with 1 part Green to about 20 parts Brown. With fallen leaves being a great Brown a large supply is a necessity for gardeners.
Without adding a source of nitrogen to your leaves you will get something called leaf mold when it decomposes. Leaf mold is still very good for your garden and can be used as a mulch. But if you want to make real compost and enjoy the full benefits that come with it then youre going to have to add some Greens to the mix. The grass clipping from your lawn mower are a great source of nitrogen. Empty the lawn mower bag into your compost bin whenever you mow the lawn. Another good source of nitrogen is coffee grinds. Dont worry if you only have a few cups a day, you can get more grinds from your local coffee shop or coffee chain store.
If you keep your compost pile moist and remember to turn it here and there you should have usable compost by the time spring comes.
If your neighbors arent smart enough to take advantage of their yard waste and make compost with it then its up to you to make sure these gifts from the trees dont get wasted. Give those leaves a home in your compost bin and eventually in your garden. Your plants will thank you.
Anthony Tripodi is the webmaster of WatchItRot.com - The Compost Guide. For more information about Compost including ideas and equipment, visit http://www.watchitrot.com