A New Lease on Leaves
Make the most of fallen leaves. Decomposed leaves used as mulch or soil conditioner can act like a tonic to perk up unhealthy habitats.
- Construct one or more simple bins to contain the leaves. As it takes about two years before leaves thoroughly decompose, it makes sense to start a new bin or bins each fall.
- Use chicken wire or some other mesh material for the sides. No cover or bottom is required. Unlike compost, leaves don’t need warmth to decompose.
- Leaves should be moist when put in the bin. Collect them after rain or sprinkle them with a hose. Use deciduous leaves only.
- To speed up the decomposition process, mix in fresh grass clippings. Bacteria in the grass will help the pile rot within a year. (Try adding clippings to one bin, but not to another, then compare the results.)
- The compost is ready when it has transformed into a dark brown, coarse material. Spread it as a mulch, dig it into the soil, or mix it with organic fertilizer. (Try another control test, comparing plant growth both with and without the leaf-compost mixture.)