Ruud Kleinpaste: How to compost leaves

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sunday, 26 May 2019, 11:08AM

With autumn well underway, this is the perfect opportunity to look after the health of our soil:

Rake up fallen leaves from lawns and paths. If left on the lawn they will cause the grass to yellow off and die, while those on paths and driveways can become slippery, creating potential hazards.

Fallen leaves make a good mulch, so rake them up under trees and use them to cover bare patches of ground. Used in this way they can act as a weed suppressant as well.

If you want them to compost quickly, sprinkle some Nitrogen (a hand full of Urea) on them – that will speed up the decaying process and it prevents the bacteria, fungi etc robbing Nitrogen from the soil profile... it means your plants won’t get that yellowing deficiency” od Nitrogen as a result.

Add leaves to the compost heap in layers, and blend in. Continue clearing the garden and add those layers of leaves and carbon (sticks, twigs, newspaper, wood chips, etc)

Some people “seed” the compost with bokashi formula.

Bin or burn anything displaying fungal infection; often the overwintering stages of these pathogens can survive a composting and come back next year to bite you in the bum.

My very favourite method of creating leaf-mulch is the leaf-mould technique:

Go outside and fill a huge wheelybin full with leaves – compress them as much as you can ((stand on them, but don’t do a “Jason Gunn”, please; watch out!

Wheel the bin to a space where you can store the layered leaf-mulch for a year or so.... I like dark, shady places under a woodland full of trees.

After a year you’ll find that the leaves have more or less broken down into friable layers of dry mulch (“leaf mould”) which makes the very best carbon-rich mulch for weed control and soil shading (protecting from fierce summer sun!)

Chuck the mulch on the soil to a depth of – say – 4 inches (10 cm); this suppresses the germination of weed seeds (too dark) and keeps moisture in the soil when you need it)

It also creates a great habitat for all sorts of creepy crawlies, like useful predators that gobble up grassgrubs and codling moths’ caterpillars overwintering near the soil.

Plus... that leaf-mould looks fabulous!

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