At this point in the fall, leaves are probably dropping all over your yard, and blowing in from the neighbors. What to do with all these leaves? Several options are available, including composting. You can bag them up and set them on the curb for your recycler to take care of, or mow them frequently and let the chopped leaves filter into the lawn. Either is ok, but in some heavily treed neighborhoods, those methods probably will not be enough to handle the load. Additionally, a compost pile produces the very thing most folks need to improve the soils in Nebraska.
So, let’s get busy. You can make a compost pile out of many building materials. Concrete block, snow fence, wood pallets, chicken wire, or hardware cloth can be used. The basic theme is to have three compartments in the unit. You’ll need one to put fresh leaves, kitchen scraps, dead houseplants, coffee grounds and grass clippings into, one that has been cooking for awhile, and one for finished compost. Make these compartments side by side for easy turning and shifting of materials from one to another.
When you start composting, mix a couple of scoops of garden soil into the fresh materials to aid in decomposition. This will provide the necessary microorganisms to start decomposing the leaves. Strive for a variety of materials in the first bin. Use half “greens” and half “browns” in the bin. “Greens” are fresh grass clippings, carrot peelings, wilted cabbage, broccoli trimmings, grapefruit halves, wilted vegetable vines and dying houseplants. “Browns” are sawdust, fallen leaves from trees, wood chips, stump grindings, small sticks, and dead plants.
Never, ever put meat scraps or oil products into the compost pile. These will not be easily composted, and will likely attract mice and other rodents to the pile. Turn the compost pile weekly for best results. Good results can still be achieved with less frequent turning. When finished, it can be added to the soil and increase the soil fertility and structure, resulting in healthier plants.