Compost Fall Leaves with a Leaf Composter

Published Nov 13, 2020

Many gardeners view fall leaves as an inconvenience – clearing them up is a garden chore. It is important to recognise that fall leaves are actually a very useful resource. They are something we should cherish and use – not something we should throw away. A leaf composter makes it easier and more convenient to make full use of fall leaves where you live. It can help you live in a more sustainable and eco-friendly way and gain useful resources to help you in your home growing efforts.

Why We Shouldn't Throw Fall Leaves Away

Fall leaves still contain many of the nutrients that the trees they came from gathered during the summer months. When we discard them, that means that those nutrients are lost. By keeping fall leaves on our properties, we can ensure that the nutrients they contain can be cycled back into the soil.

What is more, keeping fall leaves in our gardens can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution – since there will be fewer trucks on the roads dealing with discarded garden materials. By composting fall leaves, therefore, you are doing your bit to fight climate change and helping people and planet.

Why Use a Leaf Composter?

One option when it comes to leaves in your garden is simply to leave them where they fall. If you do, they can rot down naturally in place and feed the soil in the ecosystem.

But of course, there will be times when leaves litter areas where we do not want them. A leaf composter is simply a receptacle that can be used to gather and store these leaves neatly.

In addition to clearing leaves from areas where they are not wanted, a leaf composter also means we can harness the nutrients in the leaves to use elsewhere in our gardens. Rather than just relying on nature to compost leaves in place where they fall, we can make a leaf mold or compost that can be used elsewhere on our properties – in a vegetable plot or kitchen garden, for example.

How To Use a Leaf Composter

Using a leaf composter could not be easier. Simply gather up fall leaves from deciduous trees and place them inside. Damp down the leaves and compress them as you add more leaves on top. Don't worry about getting some grass in there too – the nitrogen rich grass will just help the leaves break down more quickly.

As leaves rot down, they become a valuable soil amender called leaf mold. This carbon rich material can be great when added as a mulch to your growing areas or used in a DIY potting mix for seed starting and container gardens. It will take a couple of years for leaves to break down fully when composted alone. But you can use the partially composted leaves as a mulch after 7-8 months.

Another alternative is to use a leaf composter as a more general composting system. Add layers of fall leaves interspersed with nitrogen-rich materials such as grass, kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps etc... This allows you to make a great homemade compost – well-balanced with carbon and nitrogen and filled with nutrients to help your garden grow strong.

Fall leaves are one of the amazing natural resources that can help you garden successfully and ensure long-term fertility in your growing areas.