How to Compost Fall Leaves

Leaves - baggingAhhhh…. the joys of home ownership in Crofton, Maryland!  It’s autumn, and that means beautiful fall foliage followed by falling leaves in your yard.  You can bag those leaves for weekly curbside recycling, shred them with your mower to use as mulch in your garden, or compost them to add to your soil in about two years.

Composting those leaves is easy – and it helps provide mineral-rich soil for your spring garden.

  • Begin by running over your leaves with the lawn mower so they will break down more quickly than whole leaves.
  • Add the shredded leaves to your fenced compost pile and mix them into the pile to quicken the composting process.  (A tall wire fence around your compost pile will help prevent animals like skunks and raccoons from getting into your compost pile.)
  • Add nitrogen-rich bone meal or manure to your compost pile because nitrogen is essential for composting.
  • Turn your compost pile at least weekly, using a garden fork to move shredded leaves from the bottom to the top and vice versa.
  • Cover your compost pile through the late fall and winter to keep heat in and moisture out.  (But you will still need to turn the pile weekly.)

You’ll never again need to buy “Leaf-Gro” at your neighborhood garden center because this process will help produce your own home-grown leaf compost.

The abundance of mature trees and fallen leaves in Old Crofton may make shredding and/or composting leaves an overwhelming prospect for some garden club members.  If you find yourself in that predicament, here are some guidelines for preparing your yard waste for pick-up by Anne Arundel County:

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  • Place leaves, grass, and brush in plastic 32-gallon or smaller trash bags that are tied, not closed with wire or metal ties.
  • Bundle branches with twine no more than four feet long or four inches in diameter.
  • All bags and containers must be marked with a large “X” visible to the collectors so they know it is recycling and not trash.
  • Bags, containers or bundles may not weigh more than 40 pounds each.
  • Do not mix trash with yard waste.
  • There is no limit to the amount of yard waste you can put out for collection.

Of course, another option is to press and preserve your leaves for arranging in a container or mounting and framing.

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Whether you’re a beginning gardener, master gardener, or somewhere in between, find out how to join the Crofton Village Garden Club by contacting club president Sunny Frank by email. SunnyFrank@verizon.net

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