Make compost without food scraps with dry fall leaves. Pile the shredded leaves in a 4ft x 4ft square inside a wire frame and let them break down into compost. To make a rich compost, mix coffee grounds through and in 6 months you will have fantastic compost to add to your garden without using food scraps.
Just collect fall leaves, shred them, pile them up and let them sit. In 6 months this will turn into amazing compost ready for fruit trees, vegetables and your garden beds.
Compost without food scraps is good for gardens
Compost made without food scraps is great for your garden. The method of composting that uses only fall leaves will contain nutrients and microorganisms that your soil and plants will love. Composting is an imitation of the natural process of trees dropping their leaves in fall, which break down on forest floors. The microorganisms come and start to break down the leaves and the leaf cover will stop weeds and competing trees from growing.
Trees dig their roots down into the soil deeper and deeper each year. They absorb the nutrients bring them up through the trunk and stems to the leaves. The leaves collect the nutrients and concentrate them.
The leaves are then dropped to the ground in fall, full of nutrients and ready to be re-absorbed by the earth. We can collect these leaves and the nutrients they contain and they make the perfect compost for our home gardens.
How to collect fall leaves to make compost
The best way to collect fall leaves to make compost is to use a plastic rake and a garbage bag. The leaves will compact and you can fit a large amount in 1 bag. When this is full, just empty the bag into your compost pile and start collected again.
Another great way to collect fall leaves for a “no food scrap” compost is to use a leaf blower. Connect the conversion kit to the leaf blower, set it on the ‘sucking’ mode and add the collection bag to the outlet. This will collect all the leaves easily over a large area and you can simply empty the bag when it is full. You won’t have to bend over to collect the leaves and it is so easy.
Shred fall leaves to make compost
If you shred your leaves this will help the break down process. If your leaf blower has a shredder then when you vacuum the leaves up it will shred the leaves in the process. If you don’t have one of these, simply lay the leaves on your lawn and run over them with a lawn mower. This will shred leaves and also mix in a small amount of green lawn material which is a perfect mix for your compost.
Using a compost bin or wire cage to make compost
You can make compost without food scraps in a wire cage, a compost bin or compost tumbler. It is best if the bin or container is big enough to make a 4×4 feet square amount but if your bin is smaller than this it will still work. Keeping the leaves in a compost bin or wire cage will help to create the perfect environment for microbes to breakdown the leaf mulch into compost.
The leaves will shrink down to around half the size by the end of the year in winter, then half again by spring. The pile might still look like leaves at this time but the compost will be forming on the bottom of the pile. You can mix through the top leaves or remove them. These leaves will compost down very quickly in spring and over summer as the weather warms up.
Studies have shown that adding compost to gardens improves soil and can increase the size and amount of produce grown from your fruit and vegetable garden. This study showed that tomato plants grown with compost grow more and bigger tomatoes. The average number of tomatoes for each plant and the average weight of each tomato was bigger for composted plants compared to those without compost.
In the Ted talk above Mike mentions research that shows that 2 inches of yard waste compost is all any plant needs to be fed and protected from pests and diseases for an entire growing season.
Break down compost quicker without food scraps
If you are making compost from shredded fall leaves you do not need to add anything else to make it break down quicker. The leaf mix will be the perfect balance to break down by spring ready for your garden. If you have food scraps you can add these to your worm farm instead. The worms will break this down and you will get worm castings and worm tea from your worm farm.
What to add to compost instead of food scraps
The best and only other ingredient recommended to add to your compost without food scraps is used coffee grounds. These are high in nitrogen, contain calcium and also add moisture to the compost. If you have enough ingredients to make a 4 foot x 4 foot cube you can make hot compost. Mix the coffee grounds through with the leaves and over a period of weeks it will warm up and break down.
What to do with food scraps instead of composting
Add your food scraps to your worm farm instead of adding them to your compost. Worms will love to eat vegetable and fruit scraps and will break down the ingredients to make nutrient rich worm castings and worm tea.
Researchers have said that something magical happens inside a worm as what comes out of a worm is more nutrient dense than what comes in. The worms process and concentrates the nutrients as they digest the bacteria and organic matter in your worm farm.
Where to use compost without food scraps
You can put compost made without food scraps on top of your vegetable garden, flower beds and under citrus trees. This will add nutrients to your soil, help to keep the moisture in, attract worms and microbes and trap carbon into the soil.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.