Dried leaves plus coffee grounds plus time equals compost. The leaves are falling, it is time to learn how to make compost.
Compost needs two main ingredients; brown material and green material. The brown material is carbon based and the green material is a source of nitrogen.
Dried leaves are going to decompose one way or another, but we can help them along by adding some nitrogen. Used coffee grounds are a good source of nitrogen.
Compost also needs…
The decomposition process also requires moisture. Too much or too little water will stop the compost from “cooking”. Your mixture of greens and browns need to be damp, not soaked.
Heat is another element in composting. If the mixture is the right combination of shredded browns and greens the compost will produce it’s own heat. Placing your pile, cage or tumbler in the sun is another way to help the process along.
Getting the goods, leaves and coffee grounds
A few weeks ago we “lifted the skirt” on eleven of our Redwood trees. The boughs were dipping too close to the top of our back fence and severely limiting our late afternoon sun exposure. Those branches didn’t look all that large swaying up there with the sky as their backdrop, but once we got them down on the ground the mound was about 40 feet long, 12 feet wide and 6 feet high.
We rented a chipper and condensed the boughs to a pile of chips 12 feet long, 4 feet wide and 4 feet high. Lots of redwood leaves and chips for lots of compost.
We then visited the local coffee drive thru and they were more than happy to fill and refill and refill our five gallon bucket with coffee grounds.
Mix it up
We’ve been slowly adding the chips, mixed with coffee grounds, to wire cages that just last month housed our tomato plants. The mixture is about 80 percent chips to 20 percent coffee.
Our black plastic compost tumbler is also full of leaves and coffee grounds and the original pile of chipped boughs is already cooking; billows of steam can be seen coming off the pile as we excavate some of its contents.
Learning how to compost this way is easy – leaves and coffee grounds. We tried composting with the food scraps but it took quite a while for the scraps to decompose. We are now using our kitchen scraps for a worm farm – but that’s another story.
So if you’re interested in trying your hand at composting collect some dried leaves, mix them with coffee grounds - in the right proportions, moisten and let it sit. Come Spring the bottom of your pile will be rich compost to add to your garden. Set aside the top portion, if it isn’t yet “cooked” and save it for adding to your garden later in the summer.
For more information on how to compost click here.