Monday, November 1, 2010

Composting Leaves and Pumpkins

Hello again!

From the folks at Botanical Interests who offer a great variety of vegetable and flower seeds that we feature here at Skillin's! I make a few comments in italics.


"Are you wondering what to do with all those falling leaves? The easiest thing to do is rake them into shallow piles then mow over them with a mulching lawnmower. This excellent carbon/nitrogen mix of leaves/grass can then be dumped straight into the compost bin.

If your compost bin is full, it's worth buying a trashcan with a tight fitting lid to keep near the compost pile. The leaves will stay dry in there all winter. Then, you'll have 'brown' material on hand to alternate with 'green material' in the spring and summer. Before storing them, you can run them through a shredder or fill a tub with them and stomp them with your feet to break them up. (This is a great kid activity!) If you don't want to bother with breaking the leaves up now, you can store them whole and simply take handfuls of them and crunch them up with your hands before adding them to the compost bin. Breaking them up into pieces no larger than 1"-2" in diameter is best to encourage airflow and keep the pile from getting matted down.

Extra leaves that have been shredded also make an excellent mulch to cover your garden beds for the winter. Scatter them a few inches deep across the soil surface, but not too close to the crowns of perennials where they could cause root rot. With this method, the leaves will decompose slowly over the winter, enriching the soil. In early spring, any remaining leaves can be worked into the soil (along with some compost) to recharge your beds for planting."

Great advice above by the folks at Botanical Interests. I mow and grind as many leaves as I can into my lawn. These shredded leaves decompose nicely into the soil and help enrich my lawn growth. I don't recommend doing this if you do not feed organically. Too many ground leaves can add to thatch if your soil is not organic and alive. But I do feed my lawn's soil organically and my soil that is "alive" with worms and even smaller microorganisms incorporates the leaves quite nicely!

I also bag a fair amount of leaves and I know that these leaves are used by municipalities for compost. I do not add many leaves to my compost pile or use my leaves as mulch but the comments above by the folks at Botanical Interest are just fine in my opinion.


"After Halloween, there's no reason to put your sagging Jack O'Lantern on the curb for the trash company to add to the local landfill burden. Why not let it enrich your garden instead? First, remove any melted wax inside or non-organic accessories. Then, use a sledgehammer (another great kid activity, as long as they're protected with goggles and a warning about safety) to smash the pumpkin up into small pieces. These pieces can be scattered around the garden, buried under soil, or added to the compost pile along with layers of leaves to decompose over the winter. The pumpkin pieces will add organic matter and nutrients to garden soil, helping to give you a head start on next spring's crops."

I recommend putting pieces of pumpkin into the compost pile and let it decompose into compost rather than adding bits of it straight to the vegetable garden!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
November 1, 2010

1 comment:

Finishing Touches said...

I agree w/Mike. Last year the carved pumpkins my apartment neighbor put in the garden still had seeds. On the plus side, I grew my own little pumpkins.