Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
If you are finding yourself with lots of fallen leaves, leaf compost, also known as leaf mold, may be your answer. It is a rich, earthy, organic matter that can be used as, or added to, soil. When added to soil it can provide nutrients to garden soil and help to loosen compacted earth.
You can compost leaves in a bin or just in a pile. I use the empty concrete space between our shop and the garage. I use the blower to pile the leaves in the space which also gets runoff from each roof. It is a warmer area because of the metal walls on each side but still receives air circulation.
If you have a mower with a catcher on it, you can run over the leaves in your yard or garden and simply dump the catcher into your garden or flower beds. Continue adding organic matter during the winter (very small mulch or kitchen scraps) and the beds will be ready for turning in the spring.
For fast composting of leaves start with about an 8” layer. Add an inch of soil and another inch of a green nitrogen source (such as grass clippings), along with 1 cup of nitrogen fertilizer, such as 21-0-0. Keep moist and turn weekly.
Finally, if you have large black contractor’s bags, fill them full of leaves piling as many as you can into a bag. Add water to moisten the leaves and tie off the top of the bag. Set the bag in the sun and leave until spring. When you open the bag add the contents to your beds. It’s magic for your garden and so easy.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.