Composting How Hard Can It Be

CompostingA walk through the woods off of the beaten path, or paved path in the case of city parks, will point out the ease of composting. Take a look at the big birch or maple or ash or oak or whatever other tree grows beside the path in your neighborhood. Depending upon the time of year, the tree is covered with leaves, losing leaves or bare of leaves. All those leaves fall to the ground. If you have a similar tree in your yard, every year you rake up what seems to be at least a foot of leaves. Why are there not at least thirty feet of leaves under the trees in the woods accumulated over the last thirty years of growth? Surely the wind has not blown all of them away.

The answer is found beneath the few leaves left under the tree. A quick scuff of the foot reveals black earth full of organic matter, compost. First a layer of last year's leaves with the general detritus of a woodland floor, then that layer of black matter, the leaves of past years broken down by bacteria, fungi, insects and animals of the forest floor.

Leaves are designed to feed a tree. When green photosynthesis allows the sunlight on the leaves to feed the trees in one way, but when brown the feeding continues as the leaves turn to compost and furnish the roots with nutrients the roots have in their turn brought from the depths of the earth. That same growth potential can be brought to the home garden with compost.

In fact even the method of the trees can be used at home. The sheet composting method is one of the most simple. As one example, consider the garden bed in the fall that will need about three inches of compost in spring. Instead of waiting for a busy spring, it can done in the fall. A layer of garden debris form that or other beds can be spread out over the site to about three inches thick. Next, the lawn mower about to put away for winter is used to mow bags of leaves piled from nearby trees. The chopped leaves are spread another three to six inches over the bed. Everything is neatened up and perhaps watered to settle the chopped leaves, which, incidentally, seem to form a sort of jigsaw puzzle to hold together and not blow around the yard following the mowing. By planting time in the spring there will be a great layer of compost to put the seedlings into or to dig into the bed before planting seeds.

Relax and compost. Things rot and return to nourish the earth. All we have to do is copy what nature teaches us and let things grow as they like to grow.