We might sound like a broken record but the only way to improve the condition of the soil is by adding organic matter continuously. Mulching with leaves or compost will add the organic content you need to attract earthworms and improve soil texture and best of all is that the autumn leaves falling are free to use!
Gardens get enormous benefits from Mulch. Mulch of any description will help protect the soil from extremes of heat and cold. It helps with moisture retention and stops soil washing away. Mulching with leaves or compost will add the organic content you need to attract earthworms and this improves soil texture. In my garden I layer all the falling leaves through the beds right up to a thick layer in the back against the walls. I then cover them with a thin layer of compost when the leaves have all finished falling. This tidies up the beds a bit and stops the leaves from blowing around with the wind. By the time spring rolls around the leaves are gone and the beds are covered in a thick mulch layer to start summer.
If you have a compost heap that you’re not using or planning on starting one this is the year to do it! The making of compost from your garden is easier that you think and one of the best ways to practice recycling in your garden as well as from veggie scraps out the kitchen.
Compost is the only way to improve the condition of existing garden soil. One can never over do compost it is the foundation of any garden and the more you add the better your garden will grow.
How to make compost:
Step 1: You don't need a bin to make compost. A pile of leaves, grass clippings and other garden waste will do but a bin does keep the compost contained and looking neater. An easy alternative is a simple 1 meter square wire cage made from chicken wire. A three-cage system allows you to turn the compost from one cage to another and store finished compost in the third until you are ready to use it. The most important thing is to have your compost above ground and not in a hole. The process takes longer if there is less air circulation and often can have a more rotting smell.
Step 2: The two basic elements that make up compost are green garden debris (grass clippings etc) and brown garden debris (dry leaves). Green ingredients are high in nitrogen and brown materials are high in carbon. Do not add animal waste, meats, oils, dairy, diseased plants or weeds that have gone to seed to your compost. Compost piles with a balance of one part green to two part brown materials break down fastest.
The addition of Compost Activator will also increase the speed at which your compost is ready for use. The easiest way to achieve this balance is to add one part of green material to the pile, top it with two parts of brown material and mix them together. Add in a spade of garden soil to help kick start the microbial activity in your pile after every layer of about 30cm along with a handful of Agricultural lime.
Step 3: Compost also needs the correct amount of moisture to breakdown. Compost with the right moisture level should feel like a damp, wrung-out sponge. Too little moisture slows down the decomposition rate and keeps the pile from heating up. Check your compost pile's moisture level once a week and adjust it if necessary by adding water to increase moisture.
Step 4: Turn the pile once a week to move material from the outside of the pile in. Turning also keeps the pile from compacting, which reduces airflow and slows down decomposition.
Step 5: You should have finished compost in about two months. You'll know your compost is finished