If you want to have a great garden and healthy plants next year, then creating a great fall compost pile is a must!
Having ready-made compost in the spring is the key to getting your garden and flowers off to a fast start. Compost is the perfect all purpose fertilizer. It provides a balanced set of nutrients to plants, and adds valuable structure to your soil. That structure helps to retain moisture, and help plant’s roots grow quick and strong.
And the best way to create that ready-made compost for spring is to get a healthy pile started now. Fall is the perfect time to start composting! Not only is there an over-abundance of available ingredients from all kinds of sources, your pile will have plenty of time to decompose.
By the time planting season rolls around next year, you will have mounds of “black gold” to use in your gardens, flowerbeds, containers and hanging baskets.
Here is a quick look at some simple, abundant materials that can go into making a great fall compost pile.
Creating A Great Fall Compost Pile
When it comes to creating a great fall compost pile, it all starts with leaves. Not only are they abundant, they are full of great nutrients and break down easily when shredded.
Some leaves are better choices than others. Wild Cherry, Ash, Beech, Maple and fruit tree leaves are wonderful for composting. Oak can be used, but be careful to not add too many.
Oak tree leaves lean toward the acidic side, and using too many for a pile can create a more acidic compost. Keep the ratio of oak leaves in your pile under 20% to keep your compost from becoming too acidic. If you have an abundance of oak leaves, you can shred them and put them around strawberry and blueberry plants, which thrive with a little acid.
Always, always, always shred leaves before placing in a compost pile. Whole leaves will stick together and take forever to compost. If you don’t own a shredder, simply run over them a few times with your lawnmower. It works wonders as a shredder!
As you clear out that garden, be sure to add all of the leaves, stems and roots of the plants you are cleaning out. Corn stalks, green bean foliage, pumpkin vines and more all are perfect for adding. Once again, be sure to shred them before adding to create a quick-to-decompose pile.
Avoid adding any leaves or plants that look diseased. One plant we do not add to our compost pile – tomatoes. They simply have too much risk of carrying disease. They also add in too many volunteer seeds from rotting or green tomatoes.
Old Hanging Baskets and Containers
Don’t throw out those old hanging baskets and container plants! They make incredible additions to your compost pile. Not only do the foliage, stems and roots break down, the potting soil around the plants are perfect for adding structure to the compost pile.
Not everyone has chickens, cows or horses, but adding their manure to a fall pile will greatly increase the rate of decomposition. It also adds tons of nitrogen and nutrients to your pile. Check with local farmers or hobby farmers. They are usually more than glad to let you clean out a stall or coop to have the goods. That is of course if they don’t have their own garden and compost pile :).
For more information on how to make a perfect compost pile, be sure to see our article How To Create Great Compost Fast.
Here’s to creating a great fall compost pile for great plants next year -Jim and Mary! If you would like to receive our DIY, Gardening and Recipe articles each week, sign up via email at the bottom of this post. You can also like and follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to receive all of our latest tips and articles. This article may contain affiliate links.