It's a perfect time to begin leaf composting

| 17 Oct 2012 | 12:55

— It’s that time of the year, when people are heading up to West Milford to see the beautiful colors of autumn. Of course, for homeowners, especially those living in areas with lots of trees, this also means time to rake up those leaves as they drop. Look at it as a great opportunity to compost.

“The leaves of one large shade tree can be worth as much as $50 of plant food and humus," according to "For example, the mineral content of a sugar maple leaf is over five percent, while even common pine needles have 2.5 percent of their weight in calcium, magnesium, nitrogen and phosphorus, plus other trace elements.”

The easiest way to compost leaves is to first use a lawn mower to shred the leaves. Shredded leaves are easier to compost than whole leaves and take up less room. Find a corner in your backyard to set up a compost pile. A rectangular shaped compost pile is easier to handle. It can be contained with simple wire fencing. One side should be opened for turning the pile and for removing the finished compost. The compost will also decompose more quickly if substances high in nitrogen are added. Grass clipping, old vines from the garden and kitchen scraps work great.

Turn the pile every few days. If you start now, you’ll have great compost in time for spring planting.

If done correctly, composting is a smart thing to do even in bear country.

For more information on composting, go to and Rutgers Co-op Extension fact sheet Backyard Leaf Composting at

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