Easy compost for a beautiful garden all year long

Not sure what to do with all of those leaves that you know you will be raking all season long? Instead of sending them to the landfill, try an easy compost method. A simple procedure can be followed throughout the summer and fall season that will produce compost for next year’s planting projects. All you need is a sturdy 30 or 40 gallon plastic yard bag. Any brand will do, but if they are tear proof they can be reused several times.

The basic idea behind plastic bag composting is to fill up the bag with leaves, grass and some moisture – toss – and let nature take its course.

For the plastic bag compost system to function there must be a mixture of both leaves and green cut grass in the bag. If you have gathered up the leaves with a leaf blower, just be sure to add a mower bag of grass clippings to your plastic bag leaf composter. Without green components in the bag, carbon rich leaves will not have any nitrogen to get the composting process started. A simple method is to mow the leaves with the grass into your attached mower bag. This combination of chopped leaves and grass can be dumped directly into the plastic bag, without having to add any other solid materials. The total ratio for optimal results is two thirds brown (leaves) to one third green (grass). Once the plastic bags have been filled to the top with leaves and grass, pack down the material and pour about a gallon of water on top. Puncture the sides with a knife a few times to allow a bit of air circulation and tie the top with twine. Place the bags in an out of the way spot in your yard.

Over the course of the following months, flip the bags over and upside down at least two or three times per month. This will help to distribute the carbon and nitrogen and speed up the leaf composting process. Once the temperatures drop below freezing, the bags can be left alone until the spring thaw.

When you open the bags the following spring, you’ll discover that each bag should contain around a gallon or more of dark, crumbly compost. If not all the leaves have broken down, scoop in a shovelful of yard dirt, a little water, and give the bag one more flip. Within two weeks, the material will have finished composting and can be tilled into the garden beds as a soil amendment and conditioner.

If you begin this process in the spring when you rake up the leaves that have fallen over the winter, you can combine them with the fresh green grass of spring. Keep your bags aligned so that you know which you filled first. These clippings should be a rich, hearty compost by the time you plant fall bulbs and want to provide extra winter protection to flower beds, or thrown into the garden for an extra boost of nutrients in next years vegetables.