Leaf/Grass compost?

StashBC(z3NWBC)August 23, 2005

I have read that one can get a very good compost by simply using only alternately layered sections of grass clippings and leaves. Apparently grass clippings and cow manure have the same nitrogen content. Has anyone tried this?

Here in the north the gathering scenario will be....rake and bag scads of leaves.... overwinter them in their plastic condoms and then as you mow your lawn in the spring to get your grass clippings you then begin the composting and in six weeks or so you can harvest fine compost.

Sure sounds easy enough.... I also wonder if one should sprinkle a thin layer of soil too?

Any thoughts appreciated...Ron

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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

Ron, there is a wonderful Compost forum here at the GW, check it out, those folks are experts when it comes to composting.

Yes, adding a shovel full of soil will speed up the process ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: Compost Forum

    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 5:03PM
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Every fall, I rake most of my leaves into a large chickenwire bin, and in spring, add the ones that mulch my beds. Usually, melting snow is enough water to get things going, but if not, a good hosing down is usually enough. Often, things get so hot in there I can't stick my hand in for more than a second or two without fear of getting cooked. I get in with my rubber boots 2 or 3 times a summer and with much sweating, fork it over, but the result in fall is a large black pile of (mostly) composted leaves, which over the years, have turned my clay garden into actual soil.
Go for it.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 6:32PM
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Thanks,Jon....good stuff from Saskatchewanscapes....lol.... your hot corral of leaf mold sounds like a potential haven of relief for arthritic gardeneers to dive into...lol

How long does your process take from start to finish?


    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 11:31AM
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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

Composting leaves is a good idea, but the best thing you can do with grass clippings is leave them on the lawn.

The clippings will quickly decompose on the lawn and provide nutrients to the lawn as well as provide shade to the roots and help hold moisture. By leaving grass clippings on the lawn, you can reduce your fertilizer use by 25%.

Vegetable waste from the kitchen can be composted along with the leaves. To compost, you need alternate layers of brown and green, the brown is dried matter like dead leaves, prunings, soil and the green is, well, green, like fresh leaves, kitchen waste, grass, pulled weeds etc.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 12:26AM
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If you put weeds in your compost dont you get more weeds later?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 1:12AM
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durte4(z3 Mb Canada)

That's the one good thing about fall. I'll let my grass get a little long just before the leaves drop. Once the leaves are down, I cut the grass and mulch the leaves at the same time. All this goes in the garden for the winter and by spring I have some nice compost to work in just in time for planting.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2005 at 8:25AM
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Like Crazy Gardener said there's tons of good tips here. Here's a link to our site that spells out composting in a simple A to Z manner. Hope it helps as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: A to Z of Composting

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 4:56AM
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aprilwine(z3 Alta)

Some people say you can't get good home-grown compost in our Zone 3b climate. Some say you can't compost using the black plastic earth machine type composters. I get the best compost by layering new spring grass cuttings with leaves held over from last fall. I mix the layers as I build the pile. This gives me enough material to completely fill several of the black plastic earth machine type composters. High temps are achieved, and within a week, the mass has depleted by 50% volume. At this point we load up the layers again, and again until the composter is full. A shovel full of garden soil containing many of the local microbes speeds the process. Or add a shovel full of manure.

After the first few mowings, we leave the mulched grass clippings on the lawn. This should cut your chemical fertilizing by 100%.

For the rest of the season, we layer slowly as materials accumulate, including coffee grounds, vegetable parings, more coffee grounds, weeds not yet gone to seed, with the leaves held over from last fall. This is a much slower way to compost as it is difficult to achieve high temperatures when you are not adding a lot of volume.

It is also difficult to stir compost in the earth machine composters, so I don't. I stir the layers as I build, and I water frequently to keep it moist, but not soggy.

The following spring, the composters originally filled with layered old leaves and new grass are black gold. The later filled composters will require some screening.

Either way, I get an abundance of home grown compost each spring, which I use as mulch for my flower beds. I do not mix it in, I layer it on top and let the worms do the job for me. It also serves to keep the already landed weed seeds under check as I bury them under a few inches of compost and very few have the energy to make it to the top.

There are many different methods of composting, you might be happy with a shovelful of good compost ready in a week, or like me, you might want an abundance of compost to add to your beds once a year in the spring.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 11:29PM
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gouramikeeper(4b (US), 5a (Canada))

I second leaving grass clippings on the lawn - by far the best place to turn them back into soil. I put all my leaves on my gardens, then lightly rake in spring to remove the totally uncomposted ones to put in the compost bin along with the winter's accumulation of frozen kitchen waste to get things moving.

I'm a believer in open pile composting - the more rain water that percolates through, the less the smell and the faster the decomposition. You can see a picture at http://sankey.ws/landfill.html

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 1:23PM
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