6 Simple Steps to Compost Autumn Leaves!

At Food2Soil, transforming ‘waste’ into healthy soil is our expertise, and when it comes to acres of Autumn leaves, there’s nothing more satisfying than making good compost from them! Read our compost-making guide below!

Composting autumn leaves can be a great way to reduce ‘waste’ and create nutrient-rich compost that your garden will love you for.

Here are 6 simple steps and easy to following compost making guide with Autumn leaves:

1. Gather and shred the leaves
Rake or collect the fallen leaves from your gardens, lawns or verges and gather them in a compost bin or a designated composting area.

Hot tip! Shredding the leaves with a shredder or a lawn mower can help speed up the decomposition process by increasing the surface area for microbes to break down the leaves.

2. Mix with other compostable materials
Leaves are high in carbon, which is considered a “brown” or “carbon-rich” material. To create a balanced compost, mix the shredded leaves with “green” or “nitrogen-rich” materials, such as grass clippings, kitchen scraps, chicken poop, or other green plant material. Aim for a ratio of about 3 parts brown material to 1 part green material by volume.

3. Add water
Leaves can be dry, especially in autumn, so it’s important to add water to keep the compost moist. The ideal moisture level for composting is similar to that of a squeezed-out sponge. Although, excess moisture can lead to anaerobic conditions and slow down the decomposition process.

Hot tip! Use a compost accelerant like Food2Soil compostBOOST to get the microbes cranking in your compost pile and speed up the composting process, our customers love it.

4. Turn or aerate the compost pile
Regularly turning or aerating the compost pile helps to provide oxygen to the microbes responsible for breaking down the leaves. This can be done using a pitchfork or a compost aerator. Undeniably, turning the pile every few weeks or when the temperature rises can help speed up the decomposition process and produce compost faster.

5. Monitor the temperature
As the leaves decompose, the compost pile will heat up due to microbial activity. Monitoring the temperature of the compost pile with a compost thermometer can help you ensure that the pile reaches the ideal temperature range of 49-71°C for optimal decomposition. Notably, if the temperature drops significantly, it may indicate that the compost pile needs more aeration or additional green materials to activate the microbes.

Hot tip! Because the compost pile heats up, you’ll need to keep an eye on the moisture levels, as evaporation is occurring rapidly. On a winter’s day, an active compost heap can steam! I’ve been known to utilise the heat source of a warm compost pile to rise my sourdough bread!

6. Patience and time
Composting autumn leaves can take several months to a year or more, depending on how much microbial activity you’ve got going on in your heap.

Pro tip! When turning your heap, take the opportunity to observe what’s going on.
Ask yourself – Is the pile active? Is it dry? What does it need to keep the organic matter continually breaking down? Trust your instincts allow what you’ve observed along the way to guide you. You can always get in touch with us here to ask any questions you may have, or share your success stories.

You’ll know your compost is ready when you have a lovely rich, brown earthy smelling material, and when it’s no longer ‘hot’, the worms will move in and further improve your compost with their wormy ways!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this easy to follow compost making guide. Have fun gardeners.

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