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Old 01-08-2009, 02:30 AM   #1
KensWife
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Default How long does it take leaves to compost?

I have been horrible at gathering my fall leaves for the compost pile. I will be doing that this weekend. I know it can take between 3 months to a year to compost leaves... does anyone have a trick to speed this process up?



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Old 01-08-2009, 03:28 PM   #2
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Leaves on their own are pretty tough and take a while to break down. Throw other stuff in that you know will rot. Add in a bit of dirt too. Stir the pile every now and then to prevent fires and help break up the stuff as it breaks down. That's about it.



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Old 01-08-2009, 04:34 PM   #3
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Did you add worms to your compost pile?

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Old 01-08-2009, 04:35 PM   #4
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you could get a composter & tumble it every other day or so...

adding shredded newspaper & urea(?) to the mixture speeds it along in larger manure composting applications

physically shredding the leaves (lawnmower, chipper/shredder) will help too

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Old 01-08-2009, 06:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KensWife View Post
I have been horrible at gathering my fall leaves for the compost pile. I will be doing that this weekend. I know it can take between 3 months to a year to compost leaves... does anyone have a trick to speed this process up?
Urine,stale cornmeal or a gallon of sugar water sprayed onto them speeds the process up very nicely!
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Old 01-09-2009, 01:09 PM   #6
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Default Reduce composting time by following these tips

Some useful links:
Green Community Project: Making Fast Compost with Leaves
Mass DEP :: MA DEP Consumer Recycling Information
Reduce Curbside Waste Start Composting - Huddler's Green Home Community
Reduce, Reuse and Recyle - Composting for the Homeowner
DEP: Sheet Leaf Composting
The Nature Conservancy - Composting

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Old 11-22-2010, 08:25 PM   #7
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^^ thanks for those links, i just started with my leaves. dont really knowhat im doing though

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Old 11-22-2010, 09:40 PM   #8
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Composting is easy. Nature will do it for you if you just pile them up and leave them. However if you're in a hurry you'll need to incorprate some of the ideas mentioned. I always just mulched mine (pulled the lawnmower backwards over them) them pile them mixing dirt in with them as the pile grew. The dirt has the little critters in it that will hasten the decomposition. Turning them occassionally helps too but don't do it too often. It helps to have them slightly damp too. about a week or so after you've started your pile stick a steel pipe, rebar, or whatever into the center of the pile and leave it for a few minutes then pull it back out. If the center of the pile is hot it will heat up the metal. If it's getting hot in the middle it's working!

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Old 11-23-2010, 03:36 AM   #9
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Default Stop at the local coffee shop and ask for their grounds

These are a great source of Nitrogen (green) to offset the Carbon (brown) in the leaves. I use about 20 pounds of grounds a week to keep my contained pile hot throughout the winter (mostly). During planting season, the grounds get added to compost/worm casting tea as they are a great bug inhibitor and quick source of N during the initial leaf out.

The key for me is to keep enough leaves through winter to mix with the overabundance of grass/hedge clippings/tree trimmings/garden waste (all greens) during spring, summer and again in early fall. With a little luck and dilligence, I have kept a 3-5 yard pile of compost above 150F in the center for over 6 weeks. After the 6 weeks, it cools for a month and goes on the garden for fall planting as a nice crumbly material. I used to sift the pile, but the larger pieces break down in less than a year in the main garden anyway. Saves me about 30% more time.

If only making leaf mold (leaf-only compost), make sure to stir the pile up on a regular basis. Leaves have a natural tendency to repel water after a few inches of depth. My first attempt at leaf mold left me with a big pile of dry leaves in the center compressed by the weight of snow and ice. I had to use a spade to cut it up and the center looked exactly the way it did when I pile dit 6 months before. Also, the type of leaf can affect the time and quality. Oak leaves are thicker than the "average" leaf and will take longer. Black Walnut has a chemical that will inhibit growth in other plants (juglen?). I use primarily maple and they work fine.


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Old 11-23-2010, 07:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KensWife View Post
I have been horrible at gathering my fall leaves for the compost pile. I will be doing that this weekend. I know it can take between 3 months to a year to compost leaves... does anyone have a trick to speed this process up?
plow them under or roto til them in this fall.


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