Thursday, October 29, 2015
By ERIC BARRETT
OSU Extension educator
What are you doing with all those leaves? Raking them to the curb? Bagging them up with the trash? Forget that. Try starting a compost pile.
To ensure your compost pile works correctly, you’ll need more than just leaves.
You can include all your yard wastes in your compost pile – including grass clippings, plant material left from the vegetable garden and flower bed, weeds and trimmings from hedges.
Food wastes are also usable, but don’t use any meat or bones, as they can attract rodents and other animals to your compost pile. Other types of organic waste you can use include paper, wood scraps and some fiber materials.
What you need right now is lawn clippings, and other green plant material will help you get the proper balance to get leaves to break down.
Here are a few tips for your compost pile:
The temperature should be controlled to a 140-150 degrees for an upper limit. At higher temperatures, some microbes become less effective. Heat is generated from within the compost medium. The highest temperatures are in the center of the pile.
Moisture is removed naturally from the compost medium. More than two-thirds of the original water content of compost may be lost during decomposition. Often water must be added during the process to maintain activity. The moisture content of compost should ideally be 60 percent. As a rule of thumb, a mixture of organic wastes that contains 50 percent moisture feels damp to the touch but is not soggy.
Aeration is needed to control the environment required for biological processes to thrive. For example, carbon dioxide is a product of the biochemical reactions that are part of composting. This gas must be removed from the compost to avoid toxic concentrations. On the other hand, oxygen must be available in sufficient quantities to ensure vitality of the aerobic types and to minimize odors. This is why the compost pile needs to be mixed up and stirred a little every three to four weeks.
Your compost pile can be as simple as a pile up against your building, but it is recommended that you use something like wood pallets made into a square to start your pile.
To learn more, go to: http://go.osu.edu/compostleaves.