How can you quickly prepare good leaf compost?
How can you quickly prepare good leaf compost?
A garden with deciduous trees and shrubs or an allotment under a forest is a real luxury these days. The garden is an extraordinary place and gives us back what we put into it - the best reward for hard gardening is then the admiration of its beauty, our oasis of well-being, our green space.
In autumn, the amount of work in the garden is reduced, mowing the lawn and watering the plants, or weed control are no longer necessary. But in their place it is necessary to do other gardening work:
- protection of plants from frost,
- Dismantle some accessories and patio furniture to protect them from the winter weather
- Removal of leaves on the lawn, patio and in every corner of the garden
What do we do with the leaves?
Many people dispose of their leaves as organic waste with the municipal authorities. Some people make campfires, making the air smoky and uncomfortable for their neighbors. But thankfully, there's a third - growing group of mindful eco-friendly folks looking to turn fall's gold into valuable compost.
But how do I compost properly? Most hobby gardeners who want to produce valuable humus from their vegetable waste ask themselves this question.
There are several known methods of composting: compost heaps, in open boxes, in wooden or metal composters, in black plastic bags. All of these variants are effective and produce the desired result, which is compost soil. However, most of these methods are very time consuming and under natural conditions composting can take up to two years. In addition, systematic work is required, e.g. B. turning the compost from pile to pile or monitoring and ensuring a constant moisture content.
What are thermal composters?
For those who want to quickly make good compost from foliage, composting in thermal composters can be an effective solution. High-quality and extremely weather-resistant polypropylene plastic composting systems - also known as thermal composters - form a compact and closed block on the sides and top. They are mostly made from recycled plastic. Thanks to the dark color, they better catch the sun's rays and warm up the composted mass inside the composter. Thermocomposters have holes in the walls that allow air to flow in. Oxygen and nitrogen are essential for the compost formation process and prevent rotting processes.
Plastic composters are resistant to bacteria and fungi. We use them in a temperature range of -30 to +80 C. They are weather-resistant, so they do not suffer natural damage like, for example, composters made of wood. The plastic from which the composters are made is additionally UV stabilized, so the decomposition of the plastic under the influence of sunlight is significantly delayed and the composter can serve us for many years.
Composting in thermal composters is much faster compared to traditional composters and can take 2 to 4 months.
In the thermal composter we can compost the different types of organic waste several times a year - the main thing is that compost waste should be mixed:
- crop residues
- autumn leaves
- Uncooked vegetable kitchen scraps
The list of ingredients is long - and the more varied the mixture, the more harmonious the rotting process.
Compost leaves properly - how do I do it?
When we dispose of the leaves from the garden, we would like to throw them on the compost heap. However, there are a few things to consider that can hinder or facilitate the creation of good compost:
- Do not attempt to compost leaves where leaf diseases and leaf-eating pests are visible. However, thermal composting has a good chance of killing them off, as I will explain later in this article.
- Do not place sticks or twigs between the leaves as these will take much longer to decompose and the resulting compost will not be of satisfactory quality.
- To shorten the process a little, you can shred the leaves beforehand. To do this, rake up the leaves and drive the lawnmower over them several times. Alternatively, you can chop the leaves .
- Walnut leaves are not welcome in the compost with other leaves as they can be toxic in large quantities
The composter and the laying of leaves
At the bottom of the composter it is advisable to lay out a thin layer of 5-8 cm of broken sticks on which you only want to put the leaves. Thanks to this first layer:
- bring air into the lower part of the leaves,
- excess water produced when wetting the leaves can drain away effortlessly.
Lay out the leaves in layers about 20-25 cm thick, then it is advisable to sprinkle them with a layer of about 4-5 cm of old compost or humus soil with an acidic reaction. In this way, the entire compost heap is filled up layer by layer. The leaves should be damp (but not floating in water); for this purpose, you can water them after laying each layer of leaves.
It is advisable to sprinkle some wood or charcoal ash on top, which will naturally start composting.
The thermal composter has a lockable lid so that the water does not evaporate so quickly.
How does the thermal composting process work?
Composting is a controlled process performed by living microorganisms that, like humans, need water and oxygen to live. These are mainly aerobic bacteria and fungi that subject the waste to the following processes.
The decomposition produces carbon dioxide, water-soluble minerals such as nitrates, among other things. This process generates heat, which raises the temperature of the entire composted mass. The increased temperature is good for faster growth of the most active bacteria in the composting process. It also kills a large proportion of the various germs and seeds found in the compost. In traditional composting, the seeds of various plants pose a serious problem as they often germinate after the compost is applied and become unwanted weeds.
The process of synthesizing humic compounds results in light, humus-rich compost.
Additional composting accelerators
Compared to the traditional composting methods mentioned at the beginning, thermal composting is like driving a race car. However, you can boost the process even further by using additional composting accelerators that create a turbo racer effect. These are assistive bioactivators and composting supplements containing bacteria and enzymes that break down organic compounds and are available at garden centers.
The use of leaf compost - leaf soil
The compost obtained from leaves is rich in carbon compounds but poor in nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. It is therefore not suitable for growing vegetables or other garden plants directly in it.
Leaf soil has a slightly humus texture and works well as an additive to the substrate in which we grow plants. Thanks to its consistency, it loosens and improves the aeration of the growing medium and heavy and clayey soils. In sandy, light soils, leaf soil improves compaction and moisture retention.