Autumn foliage makes great compost
If you haven't yet set up a compost bin - or pile in my case - now is the perfect time. As the autumn leaves start to fall, these are ideal for starting off compost in the garden.
Rake up all the fallen leaves in your garden and use them to establish a compost bin. Even if you have already established a composter, you can add the leaves onto the top of your composter for a rich source of nutrients.
Place the raked leaves next to your compost bin and alternate layers of shredded leaves with kitchen scraps and slightly moist and shredded newspaper and let it sit over the winter. It will only need aerating or turning occasionally, and by spring you will have fresh compost for your plantings.
Another alternative to adding fallen leaves onto a compost pile is to dig into flower beds. I prefer this option as mess is immediately taken care off and the leaves have time to decompose in the soil, creating a rich soil in preparation for my spring planting.
For those wanting to set up a compost bin, either a DIY compost bin or a bought option, here are some tips to bear in mind:
Position the compost bin where it is easily accessible, preferably not too far from the kitchen so that it's handy for tossing kitchen scraps. Bear in mind that it should be a sunny or warm spot to assist in quickly breaking down matter.
The best compost bins are closed in on all sides and have a top. A nice way to close in a compost bin is to add straw or cardboard around the inside of a frame. These materials are slow to break down, but will eventually become part of the compost. And yes, cardboard, paper and magazines are excellent items for adding to your compost pile.
For a compost that is rich in organic matter, combine carbon and nitrogen materials in the compost bin. A healthy compost pile should have about two-thirds carbon (brown) materials and one-third nitrogen (green) materials. The carbon-rich materials provide aeration to speed up the composting process, eliminate foul odours and help produce a light, fluffy finished compost.