, Newburyport, MA

November 14, 2012

Save leaves now for spring composting

Tim's Tips Tim Lamprey
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Once you get a few windy days in the fall, the leaves start raining down from the trees. You rake up those leaves and put them out by the curb for pickup by your city or town. You may even have to haul them to the compost facility. Or maybe you can make compost in your yard.

One of the hardest things about making compost is that it tends to sit there and take forever to rot. When making compost, you need bacteria to get the process going, if you want the leaves to rot. The same goes for grass clippings, which you can have tons of in the spring. Nothing like the smell of a pile of grass clippings molding all spring! What makes the process go quicker is the carbon nitrogen ratio.

What this means in simple terms is that you need to mix some green materials and brown materials together to really get the process going. The green material is the grass clippings and any household waste like lettuce leaves, etc. The easiest brown material that you can use is fallen leaves. Those leaves won’t be readily available in the spring. However, you could save some of those leaves now and add them to your compost in the spring.

Most of you put the leaves in brown paper bags. If you put a few bags in the shed or garage this fall, then you would have them to use in the spring when you have all those green grass clippings. If you don’t have a place inside to store them, put the paper bags into a large plastic bag and store the leaves outside. Come the spring, you have your source of brown material for making your compost.

If you have a ton of leaves that you want to start composting this fall, there are activators you can add to the leaves to speed up the process. By adding the activator to your pile of leaves, the decomposition process can be accelerated.

On a new topic, fall is an excellent time to lime your lawn. Once you get those leaves picked up, you should apply lime to your lawn. Lime removes the acidity from the soil. Acidity makes it harder for the grass to take up the fertilizer you apply. Weeds also grow very well in acidic soil.

Your lawn isn’t the only area of your yard that can benefit from a fall application of lime. Your perennial gardens generally also need an application, and your vegetable garden, rose bushes and lilacs will benefit from it too. Take some time this fall to apply some lime to your gardens.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.