How to Create Garden Compost From Leaves

gardening, garden compost, vegetable gardens



Having rich soil is essential in vegetable and flower gardens.  I started composting several years ago.  I have 2 compost bins that I use for kitchen scraps, yard cuttings, grass etc.  The compost bins weren’t breaking down fast enough for me, so I started composting my neighbor’s leaves.  I’m not sure that I will return to the compost bins after seeing the results of the composted leaves. I love how the leaves break down.  They’re easier to compost and they don’t require any work unlike the compost bins.  Check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips too.

Just leave the leaves in lawn bags and let them do their thing.  My neighbor brings me 15 – 20 bags each fall.  I use them to mulch the garden in the fall to keep the weeds down in the spring until I’m ready to till.  The top picture is a bag that I use around my garden plants as mulch.  This year I created paths in the garden to keep the weeds down with them. Normally I use straw, but I didn’t purchase any this year so I had to use my leaves.

 
Here’s a picture of a bag that has broken down into black gold.  Every gardener wishes for black gold. This bag is beautiful and full of worms. It took a year for the leaves to break down to this state, but it is so worth it. The compost in the bins isn’t close to being this rich after 3 years.  I must say that I have not given the bins the attention that they require.  Compost bins must be heated up by using a certain amount of greens and browns, such as cuttings from the lawn, leaves, kitchen scrapes, newspaper, etc. It also requires water and turning.  My bags of leaves just require storage space, and nature does its thing. The longer you leave them, the more they break down.
Because I have 5 – 10 bags of black gold for the next year’s garden, the other bags can sit and decompose this year.  You can have black gold too. Stop burning those leaves and find a spot for them to decompose.  It’s easy:
1.  Remove large sticks, pine cones etc. from the leaves.
2.  Use inexpensive lawn bags to house them.  I purchase cheap ones from the Dollar Store.
3.  Crumble the leaves as much as you can while placing them in the bag.  Because my neighbor gives me her leaves, I have to open the bags and crumble them myself.  If you have kids let them crumble them.  It gets them involved in gardening.
4.  Wet the crumbled leaves thoroughly, seal the bag and place it in a spot where they won’t be disturbed. I use a stick and punch a few holes in the bag so it will get water from the rain and snow during the winter months.
 
Finally, I hope that you found the post on garden compost beneficial.  So, just remember that composted leaves will enrich your soil and help produce nice flowers and vegetables. You can either till it into the garden or place a scoop into the hole before adding your plant. I’m going to add more of this compost around my established plants this week.  I use a small hand trowel to dig the compost into the soil around the plant. Finally, if you use this method make sure you don’t dig too deep.  Digging too deep may damage the roots or the plant.  Most importantly, the compost is organic and it’s free.

Using Eggshells In The Garden

 

 

using eggshells in the garden

 

Don’t throw those eggshells away.  Eggshells are beneficial in the garden.  Start using your eggshells in the garden.  Your tomato and pepper plants will thank you.  So, grab a container and save them throughout the year.  Ask your family members or neighbors to save them for you if you don’t consume a large quantity of eggs.  Explain that using eggshells in the garden will benefit the tomatoes they will receive in exchange.  This will give them an incentive to save the shells for you.  Check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips before you leave.

However, before you store the eggshells I recommend rinsing them thoroughly and than drying them in the oven on a low temperature. You can also set them outside on sunny days or leave them in an open dish on the kitchen counter. When your dish becomes full, have the kids crush them and than store.  Check out my other backyard vegetable garden tips.

 

using eggshells in the garden

If you decide to dry them in the oven, remember they don’t need to be in the oven long or on a high temperature.  Just long enough for them to dry on your lowest setting.  Once cooled, crush them and put them in a plastic bag or container. You can store them in your refrigerator if you don’t have counter space.  A rolling pin is a good way to crush mine or have the kids crush them with wooden spoons.

So, when garden season arrives place a generous dose of the crushed eggshells in the hole when you plant your tomatoes.  They are a great source of calcium for the plants.  Furthermore, I also sprinkle the shells around the plant once I get the tomatoes in the ground.  I actually do this throughout the growing season.  The eggshells will help give your tomatoes a calcium boost, and help fight off blossom end rot.

Secondly, I mix the crushed eggshells in with my birdseed.  Bluebirds, Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers and Barn Swallows love eggshells.  You can spread the eggshells on a log or on the ground if you don’t have a platform feeder.  We hope that you enjoyed our tips on using eggshells in the garden, and you will start recycling your eggshells.  You may also like 20 Flowers to Use in a Wildflower Garden.

10 Benefits of Vegetable Gardens

 

benefits of vegetable gardens

 

I love gardening.  It’s a rewarding experience and there’s nothing better than fresh vegetables in the summer and throughout the winter months.  My grandfather had huge gardens when I was growing up. He planted enough vegetables for his kids and their kids. There was a catch, the grandchildren had to help weed the field, I mean garden.  It looked like a field and felt like one when we had to walk it and pull the weeds.  You can also find other vegetable garden and backyard vegetable gardening tips on the blog too.

I remember the garden holding tons of tomato plants, green beans, peas, onions, corn, greens and the list goes on. The garden became a part of my soul. For as long as I can remember, I thought about my own vegetable garden.  I decided to finally put one in several years ago, and I look forward to digging in the dirt each spring.

It’s time for me to decide what I want to grow this season.  I planted garlic in the fall, and I saw green sprouts yesterday.  I was unsuccessful last year, so I’m really excited.  My freezer is full of squash, peppers and, zucchini now, so I was thinking that I wouldn’t plant any. It dawned on me that others aren’t as fortunate, they would love to have fresh veggies this summer and maybe freeze a few for the winter months.  For the veggies that I don’t use or give to family, I can take to a food bank.

vegetable gardens
I have found so many benefits from planting my own vegetables.  Here’s a few:

  1. I save money on my food bill. 
  2. I have delicious vegetable for summer gatherings and snacking. 
  3. I’m able to make my own tomato sauce for pizza and pasta.
  4. I’m able to can and freeze vegetables for use during the winter.
  5. I share my bounty with neighbors, family and friends.
  6. Gardening is a great way to exercise and get fresh air.
  7. Gardening is a great way to relieve stress.
  8. Learning to grow a variety of vegetables is educational.  
  9. Provides an opportunity to bond with my grandchildren.
  10. Growing produce from seed is challenging and rewarding.     
Finally, Urban Gardening has become popular. So, growing fresh vegetables in small places is possible.  A little creativity, and you can have fresh garden vegetables at your door. Fresh vegetables are being grown on decks, patios and balconies. How you ask?  In containers.  Furthermore, the containers can be paint buckets from Lowe’s or Home Depot, planters, or old whiskey barrels. Use your imagination.  Grow lettuce, peppers, tomatoes or herbs.  Herbs can be grown in small flower pots and don’t take up much space.  You can place these in your kitchen window, and they really enhance dishes.  Start small, but start growing your own greens.

 

Winter Sowing Vegetable Seeds

gardening tips
I have the winter blues!  I decided to start my vegetable seeds over the week-end.  Planning my garden takes the blues away and gives me a head start with strong, healthy veggie plants.  Last year I used heating mats and grow lights.  I had a 90% germination rate, but it takes lots of time and space to nurture the seedlings.  Check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips too.

This year, I decided to try winter sowing.  I’ve been saving plastic liter, juice and milk bottles.  Anything that I can cut and punch holes in the bottom for drainage.  I started about 20 bottles over the week-end.  Tomatoes, dill, zucchini, squash, sunflowers and petunias.  Tomatoes, dill and petunias reseed and grow.  Research showed that the squash and zucchini will also do well.  l will continue winter sowing through-out February.  I’ll do a few tomatoes, cukes and green beans inside.  Just in case I don’t have a successful germination rate from the winter sowing; however, gardeners swear by this method.  I’m sold!

 

If you’re wondering how I create these miniature greenhouses, here it goes.  Wash your bottles in hot soapy water and rinse well.  I used a box cutter to cut around the bottles.  Leave an inch on the bottle for a hinge.  Add drainage holes in the bottom of your bottle.  To accomplish this, I use a glue gun on the milk bottles.  However, I was unsuccessful using the glue gun on the liter and juice bottles.  The gun wouldn’t penetrate.  I used the box cutter to make slits on the bottom.  If you have another method of punching holes, bring out your equipment and punch holes in the bottom of your bottles.

First, mix your seed starting mix as directed on the package.  I use warm water when mixing the soil Mix it thoroughly.  You want it wet; however, not soggy.  Next, add 2 – 3 inches of the mix to the bottom of each of the bottles or container.  I use Miracle Gro Seed Starting Mix, which I purchase from Tractor Supply.  It’s a little expensive, but I have a great germination rate each year with the mix.

Second, place your seed on top of the soil and cover lightly.  Wrap the bottle with duct tape.  I purchased my duct tape from the dollar store.  Mark the bottles with a permanent marker, which I also purchased from the dollar store.

You can discard the bottle tops.  I moved the bottles and containers to the deck to ensure they get rain. Let them go until spring.  At that time you should have sprouts that will need water.  As they grow, you will have to remove the top of the bottles.  These little babies will already be hardened off, which is a step you will have to take if you start seedlings indoors.

Stay tuned for additional posts on winter sowing.  Finally, if you are a gardener and use the winter sowing method, please share your experience.  You may also like My Winter Sow Seed List.