Use leaves in your compost piles

By Laurie Garretson
Nov. 23, 2017 at 10:30 p.m.
Updated Nov. 24, 2017 at 1 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

Laurie Garretson   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

Fall is a very popular time of the year for those wanting to see beautiful colored foliage. According to the Travel Channel, one of the best places to find some of the prettiest fall foliage is in the New England area. Living in Texas doesn't really provide us with any area of the state that can compare with the New England foliage.

Fall in Texas usually just means raking leaves, not admiring the colors. Every fall, it amazes me to see so many bags of leaves waiting at the curb for the garbage truck to haul off. Most gardeners realize the value of those leaves. Leaves, grass clippings, twigs, vegetable scraps and most any other organic matter except bones and meat are valuable additions to compost piles.

Sometimes, people complain about how stinky compost piles can be. Compost piles do not have to smell bad, and if they do, there is something out of balance. Compost piles that are too wet can produce bad odors as all the contents start to rot before there's a chance for it to decompose. The addition of some extra leaves and other organic matter into the pile can help to soak up the extra water and prevent bad smells.

Another common problem with compost piles is that they will not heat all the way through. This is usually caused because the pile is too small to function correctly. Adding more organic material and enlarging the pile will usually help it to warm up and decompose all the way through.

If a compost pile will not heat up at all the problem could be from not enough moisture or a shortage of nitrogen. If the pile feels dry, try poking some holes in it and then watering it thoroughly. If the pile feels moist but is still not heating up, try working in grass clippings or some blood meal as a source of nitrogen.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.


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