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Leaf Compost

Those precious fall leaves!

"Leaf Compost Pile"

My Leaf Compost Pile

Love them or not they are a  great source of plant nutrients. Calcium, phosphorous, nitrogen & magnesium.  Besides adding healthy nutrients to the soil, leaves create rich organic humus and leaf mold.

Leaf compost acts like a mop; it soaks up rain drops that will later moisturize sandy soils. It adds texture & aeration that clay soils benefit from. The leaf mold it creates invites worms. Roots love texture.  Gardens love worms.

How to Make Leaf Compost & Leaf Mold:

While Mother Nature actually makes leaf compost and mold, gardeners can respectfully take advantage of it. Once the natural basic breakdown process is understood, gardeners can work with it and get satisfying, sustainable results.

Leaves can take 2 – 3 years to breakdown. Here is a general description of the process and some simple tips to speed it up and a couple of things to avoid.

Composting leaves will need nitrogen to decompose. Turn leaf compost piles every now & then at regular intervals so all leaves are eventually exposed and/or unexposed to open air as well as turned under from time to time.  This will continue to keep the composting process moving right along.

Turn only the still composting leaves on top of the soil. Don’t turn the leaves into the soil at this point.   Leaves that are not decomposed and turned into the soil prematurely will rob desired plants of nitrogen.

For faster composting results grind or mulch your DRY leaves with a lawnmower equipped with an attached bag. I don’t have a lawnmower nor do I always have the time to mulch my dry leaves but when I do I throw on a pair of goggles & a dust mask & mulch them with my Weedwacker in a trash can.

Watering

Water assists the composting process.  Water down the leaf compost pile from time to time.  Don’t over water though.  Too much water will result in mildew odor.

Leaf Mold

Leaf Mold is the result of broken down leaf mulch. The matter found at the very bottom of an aging leaf compost pile. It is dark brown/black, crumbly and smells quite earthy. Leaf Mold is a superb soil conditioner, attracts worms, provides carbon, holds water and prevents erosion and drought.

Adding Additional Nutrients

When leaves have composted add any additional nutrients that your soil requires, if any. Add the additional nutrients to the leaf compost only and not the soil unless otherwise directed.

Leaf Compost – Sustainable – Agriculture

Urban Farming?  How do you compost leaves?

Worm Tea

Oh for the love of worms!
They aerate the soil and poop up some awesome goodness that plants love and gardeners appreciate.  I whip up some worm tea for a nutritious liquid fast feed.
How to Make Worm Tea
…like I do
Vermiculture: begins with the appreciation of working with worms who decompose your kitchen’s organic food waste and turn it into awesome nutrients for your crops. Worms are easy to work with, odorless, quiet, rebuild the soil, are sustainable, save water, energy & money because your food scraps are transformed into plant food so you don’t have to purchase any at the store. Less waste in the landfills too!

Worm Tea

How to Make Worm Tea

Utensils:

Food Safe Container – I use @ a 2.5 gallon beverage dispenser. I previously used a 5 gallon food grade bucket. Using the current beverage dispenser w/faucet is so user-friendly.
Aquarium Pump – I use a pump with a 5 – 15 Gallon Aerating Capability
Aquarium Air Tubing
Aquarium Air Stone
Worm Castings – I used the worm castings from the worm composter and the bottom tray. The bottom tray castings are extremely damp, damper than the compost found in finished trays.
1) First I scraped the worm compost particles that had collected in the bottom tray of my worm bin. I also use the worm fines from the upper trays.
I’m using the Worm Factory 360
2) Next I wrapped about 3 cups of the fines very securely in cheesecloth, now I use old nylon stockings because the fines don’t seep out as easily as when I used the cheesecloth leaving a long tail at the end of the knot to easily hang later.
3) Then I filled the food safe container with rain water.
4) I assembled a 5 to 15 gallon aquarium pump, aquarium air hose and air stone; submerged the air stone at the bottom and weighted it down with a rock.
5) I tied the long tail of the cheese cloth, nylon stocking the bucket handle and submerged the worm tea bag completely under water letting it dangle. I moved the air stone directly under the worm tea bag to allow direct air flow up and through the worm tea bag for maximum aeration.
6) Aerate the worm tea bag for at least 24 hours or even a little longer.
7) Funnel into watering cans & spray bottles.  Apply.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

Leachate: An unfinished liquid that accumulates in the bottom reservoir of the worm bin. Leachate should not be used as worm tea. It has substances which have not yet been properly broken down and can contaminate the surface of food crops and other plants. I use Leachate for direct, into-the-ground root feeding. This allows the Leachate to enter the earth, finish safely breaking down while feeding roots that I don’t plan to eat at the same time. I never use Leachate directly on plants.

Worm Tea:Nutritious, fast feeding sustainable, liquid plant food. Brewed from steeped worm fines aerated in liquid for at least 24 hours, preferably rain water.
Additives: Some worm tea brewers include additives to further enhance the final worm tea product. This is an ongoing study/controversy. Additives, even the organic kind, have been found to increase the harmful bacteria and so I avoid additives, even the organic ones.

Read more about the improper use of leachate as worm tea & the adverse effects of adding additives during worm tea brewing from the USDA.

Urban farming? How do you make Worm Tea?