A few easy tricks will go a long way toward building a fast-working pile out of fall leaves, and more significantly, one that will produce amazing compost for next year’s garden and flowerbeds.
Let’s face it, when it comes to generating beautiful soil and energizing plants, compost is at the head of the class. Many gardeners call it “Black Gold” because of this very reason.
However, making enough for all of your plants can be difficult. And this is where leaves and leaf compost can come in handy.
Here’s how to turn leaves into rich, nutrient-dense compost at your own home.
1. Sort the Best Leaves for Composting
Picking the appropriate leaf kinds for composting is the first step in producing high-quality compost from leaves.
Leaves from maple trees, birch trees, ash trees, cherry trees, cottonwood trees, and fruit trees are at the top of the list. You could make a pile out of any of these great options. These types not only have a higher nutrient density, but also have a quicker leaf breakdown.
What about the oaks? To be fair, they aren’t off-limits in moderation; but, their acidic nature can alter the PH values of a pile. And when it comes to nitrogen and other nutrients, oak leaves rank towards the bottom.
You can still use some oak leaves in your pile, but try to reduce the percentage of those leaves to less than 20% to avoid any complications.
You should probably just go around those trees. Walnut, eucalyptus, and horse chestnut trees are particularly notable examples. Toxins in walnut and eucalyptus leaves can kill plants and hinder the germination of specific seed types.
Both the horse chestnut and its close related, the Buckeye tree, are capable of producing a toxin that, in sufficient quantities, can be dangerous to humans. Although the poison is highly concentrated in the nuts of these trees, it is not always easy to extract. To be safe, it’s best to just not include them in the stack.