Leaves take a turn

Spring is here. Time to turn the compost. This allows all the leaves to get a turn to get to decompose in the interior of the pile.
A manure or pitch fork is the best tool. It pierces the pile easily since it has only four sharp fingers.
Big surprise!
In spite of all the snow we got this year, the leaf mulch has started to darken quite a bit. That is a good sign.
There was some matting or clumping in the pile. The process of turning breaks up these clumps.
Basically, you have to transfer all the contents of the pile from one bin to the other. That is why you need two partitions for your compost bin.


Now the compost is all set to go another month.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The big snow

Winter is over finally!!!
Not sure if there was any “composting” happening.
We did manage to collect up lots and lots of kitchen scraps, compostable guinea pig bedding in a trash barrel closer ( the compost bin was under three feet of snow).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Veggies for the Compost bin

This is an experiment you need to do to believe.

Every time you are about to throw something into trash, separate out the vegetable matter and throw it into a little bin. This includes onion peels, banana peels, orange peels, apple cores, sqeezed out lemons, cantaloupe seeds, unusable ends of all vegetables, vegetables that stayed in the fridge too many days and have started to rot, peanut shells, egg shells (well, not a vegetable, in this case).

All of this can go to the compost bin instead of going to a landfill. I use a small bin that fills up every week and it sits outside my kitchen on the deck. Its one of those trash bins that is foot operated and has a removable liner container inside. This way, I can hose it off with water after it gets emptied into the compost bin.

Here is one small load that landed on the compost heap.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Layering for Composting

The leaves are all shredded and ready to go into the bin riding on the tarp.

Instead of just filling the bin up all at once, we need to do some layering.

After adding a tarp load of leaf mulch to the compost bin (every four inches or so), the leaves need to be watered down with a couple of gallons of water. This is the size of my watering can. I also throw in a couple of handfuls of powdered lime. Some wood ash from the fireplace ash trap goes on every layer too.

If you had a batch of compost from last year, a little bit of it can go on every layer too.

The water is necessary because, the leaves naturally tend to form a thatched covering. Rain water will not easily percolate to the bottom of the pile. Dry leaves preserve for a long time – that means no composting.

This is how my full leaf pile looks like at the end of my fall leaf clear up:

Before I figured out the mower mulching process, this used to be more than ten tarp loads of leaves and a very big undertaking. Its hard to believe the compression and convenience you get from simply mowing over the leaves!

Now the yard is super clean. The holiday lights went up.

The compost bin is fully charged and ready for more experiments for the rest of the year!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Getting the leaves to the bin

It happens every year. The yard is so packed with leaves and it’s your job to get them all. It seems like an impossible undertaking. Its like staring up a big mountain that needs to be climbed. Yet, it all gets done and you are up on the ladder putting out the Christmas lights.

I long stopped using the electric leaf blower. It does some work, but leaves you with buzzy elbows the next day.

A plain rake does the job just as well.  All you need to do is to rake the leaves away from the house foundation and other paved areas like the patio into the lawn. You do not have to collect them yet.

The best tool to handle the leaves is actually the riding mower. My mower does not have a collection mechanism. It just spits out the grass clippings on the side. You start on one side of the yard and run overlapping circles. The leaves get shredded to bits and corralled towards the middle. You keep shifting the circle a little bit towards the other end of the yard. At the end, you have a few unbelievably small piles of leaf mulch lined up in the middle of the yard.


This is a very fast way to reduce the volume of leaves as well as very helpful for the composting process. Full sized leaves take up so much more space.

The leaf mulch can be easily moved to your composter by raking them onto a tarp and dragging them over.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Building a Cheap Compost bin

Composting is a natural process that happens to fall leaves over a few years. A compost bin really helps speed up this process. The first time I saw a compost bin was a demo setup at an Audubon sanctuary. It was something that would use a lot of outdoor lumber, metal mesh and a lot of cutting on a table saw. I don’t think it needs to be so complicated or expensive.

My compost bin is going to be very simple. The materials cost under $20.00 at Lowes :

  1. Poultry netting 36″x50′ Plastic $12.97
  2. 2″x2″x42″ Balusters Mitered (Used to build deck railings) $5.94

That’s it!                You can see the materials for yourself

The balusters have a nice mitered tip, so they can be driven into your chosen location like stakes.  I used the stick length (42″) to measure out the positions to form side by side bins like this :

The chicken netting goes around starting from the left side.  Trash bag ties or garden ties are used to secure it to the stakes. The front part of the netting can be folded back to allow access to the bins to shovel out the compost (next year).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Leaf time is upon us

Its that time of the year. The oaks and maples are getting ready for the long winter break. The leaves are flying all around. Halloween is done.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment