For New Englanders, saying goodbye to summer is often a sad event. Who hasn’t worn her flip-flops on a 45-degree evening simply because she refuses to acknowledge the change of seasons?
Yet, even the hardened summer lover has to admit: fall’s the prettiest time of year here. This is why people flock from places like California, where there just aren’t such visible seasonal changes, to delight in our colorful fall foliage. And for Connecticut homeowners, it’s also a gorgeous time of year, with the added benefit that we can see the shades change color from the comfort of our front porches.
Don’t leave it alone
Unfortunately, by late October and early November, the piles are not only beautiful but a real nuisance. Baby Boomer homeowners may have trouble doing all the raking these piles require.
Yet, if we all strive toward following a mantra of reduce-reuse-recycle (and repurpose!), seeing leaves accrue won’t mean everything’s going to waste – except it is. According to New York-based Recyclebank, “The easiest way to repurpose yard waste is to simply add it to a compost pile.”
Like food waste, leaves become organic waste that should be repurposed; in this case for compost. Meaning, use your old leaves, and break them down to reserve later for the planting of your heirloom tomatoes, lettuce and squash, for example.
Just get some large, cheap bags – kudos if you can find recycled bags – and get ready to get dirty. Get down on your hands and knees and start scrunching up the leaves and breaking them down into small pieces. You can also stomp on them for faster composting, or even mow over the leaves.
Then add water from your hose, making sure to soak the leaves in order to accelerate the composting process.
Where it ends up
After tying up the bags in loose knots, you’ll be tucking them in a clean, covered part of your backyard or garage. If you don’t have a garden or have a use for them, get in touch with your municipal recycling service and look into a compost pickup or drop. (More on that here.)
If you do keep the bags for yourself, consider keeping the compost fairly near the garden. For by spring, the interiors of the bags will have rotted and it might be tough to tote the bags too far. Oh yes, make sure you’ve punched about four tiny holes at the bottoms for the water you added from the hose.
You’ll want to keep everything moist, but the basic premise is that you’ll be saving those leaves in a pile rather than tossing them into the garbage. This is an example of carbon compost, whereas other types of compost are rich in nitrogen and/or oxygen.
“Connecticut has a history of organics recycling dating back to the late 1980’s when the first recycling laws and regulations were passed, and leaves were designated as a mandatory recyclable item,” according to the Conn. Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection.
By turning your “spoils” into soil next spring, you’re continuing the circle of life – while also giving you something to look forward to on those cold winter nights!
For more information on general home composting, check this EPA primer.
Video courtesy of Youtube user Praxxus55712, “EZ Autumn Composting with Leaves!”