Welcome to October’s Newsletter
This month we have a new design both in the email being sent out and also for the layout on our Blog.
With so many leaves falling it would be hard to choose another subject for this issue, so Leafmould Composting it is, hopefully you will learn something new and be able to put it into practice.
If you have any views or advice you would like to share with us regarding the new layout, please let us know in the comment section under the newsletter.
Pumpkin & Firework Composting
Ever wondered what to do with your Pumpkins after Halloween or the Fireworks lying in your garden after the 5th November? well now’s the time to find out how to put them to good use.
Pumpkins are relatively easy to compost if you are familiar with composting in general, but there are a few things you need to watch out for.
Firstly remove all pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin before placing on the compost heap. The seeds are known to be notoriously hardy and can survive the composting process intact. This is bad news for the garden unless you want lots of Pumpkin plants taking over your flower beds, and from my own experience this year, they take up a lot of room.
Secondly remove all the extra objects that might have been used for decorating the pumpkin, candles, metal tins from candles and anything else that isn’t able to be composted.
Thirdly if you want to speed up the process of composting the pumpkin, break it up into smaller pieces, this will increase the surface area and lead to faster decomposition.
And lastly once you add your pumpkin to the compost heap, cover it with leaves, cardboard or paper as this will protect against an insect invasion and also balance out the green and brown materials in the compost heap.
Fireworks are not completely compostable due to the heavy metals that are used to create the colours, but there are a few things we can reuse.
Firstly the sticks used on rockets can be used as plant supports.
Secondly if you empty the contents of the used or unused firework, including all of the metals and gun powder and give it a good brush, the cardboard can be added to the compost heap.
And lastly, used cold sparklers can be used as plant ties depending on the flexibility of each one, make sure they have been burnt down to the end to prevent any potential accidents.
JT’s Blog: Soft mists and Spider’s Webs
Can it really be October? No sooner am I planning what to grow in the garden it feels that I am now bedding it down for the winter.
Already Tikka, Korma and Dipper, (our Speckledy Hens) are responding to the cooler, shorter days and have slowed down the egg laying rate. Our salad vegetables are much depleted with only a few lettuces, spring onions and tomatoes still on offer and the cauliflower will sadly have to be composted as a failed attempt!
As usual I find autumn a time to begin to reflect on what has been successful in the garden and what could be changed next year. I know that I shall have to try Cauliflower again after reading up on what I may have done wrong this year. The carrots were a huge success as were the beetroot and salad vegetables but I have a yearning to try some tasty different offerings.
In readiness for winter planning I shall be ordering a couple of seed catalogues. Before the joy of reviewing these comes the job of washing, all of this year’s seed trays and storing them safely. The garden tools will be cleaned, sharpened, oiled if necessary and stowed away tidily. A ‘stock-take’ of twine, plant labels, cane toppers etc. will be taken and a list of any shortages made so that if anyone needs a Christmas present idea I have a small list (just in case.)
Speaking of Christmas present ideas, for many years my list has included bird food. For such a small outlay the pleasure I get from seeing a wide variety of birds visit the garden to feed is huge. As my children have set up in their own homes I have bought bird tables, feeders and food so that they too can enjoy such a simple pleasure.
Enjoy ‘wind-down’ October.
Leaf Composting Kit only £22.95
The Leaf Composting Kit will not only save you money but will also save you time.
This great kit includes;
- 3 Leaf Sacks
- 1 pair of Handy Hands Leaf Collectors
- 1 bottle of Be Green Compost Maker for Leaves
Wormery Starter Kit only £19.95
Includes everything you need to start (or restart) an empty wormery, or try your hand at making your own.
This great kit includes;
- Worm Bedding
- Lime Mix
- A Tap
- A handy Information Guide
- Packet of approx 150 Tiger Worms
Telescopic Gutter Cleaner
Our telescopic gutter cleaner is ideal for cleaning or clearing blocked gutters without clambering on to roof tops. Featuring a brass hose connection.
Was £17.95 now Only £14.95 Valid until 21/10/13
How To Make Great Leafmould
Perhaps the best time to collect leaves is just after it has rained when they will be well soaked. Alternatively hose them down with water.
Now you simply fill the Leafmould Compost Net with the leaves, compressing each layer as you go. Even if you fill your Leafmould Compost Net, the volume of leaves will gradually but significantly reduce over the coming months. If you fill your net then place something on top of the leaves to prevent any wind scattering. At its simplest that’s it, all you have to do now is wait.
After about one year the leaves should be sufficiently rotted to use as a mulch or to dig into your soil. To achieve a finer product e.g .to use as a lawn dressing or in potting composts simply leave it for a further year and you’ll have an excellent peat alternative with numerous gardening applications.
It is best not to mix up leaves from different years as this will result in a less even and consistent end product. After the first year the leafmould pile should be quite stable and sufficiently rotted that wind scattering won’t be a problem. Better still, why not have two Leadmould Compost Nets for a neat and tidy continuous process?
To Speed up the Process
There are several simple ways to quicken the process and achieve leafmould in about half the normal time.
Shred the leaves before filling the Leafmould Compost Net. This can be done using a garden shredder, or by spreading your leaves on the lawn and running a lawn mower over them. A cylinder mower with a grass box is ideal for this, as it will shred and collect in one operation. Any bits of grass (seed free) collected in this process will also help to speed up leafmould making.
As shredding is best done with dry leaves to avoid clogging up your shredder or mower – remember to wet them before filling your leafmould Compost Net.
Unusual as it may sound; human urine is an excellent natural activator rich in nitrogen. If you care to, simply pour a few pints (diluted 50/50 with water) over the leaves. Any more direct application methods are entirely up to you and at your risk!
Turn and add grass clippings
In the first spring after filling, empty out the leaves, mix with fresh grass clippings (in the proportion of 4 parts leaves to 1 part grass – ie 25% grass) and refill the leafmould maker compressing the leaf/grass mixture as you go.
Any or all of these simple actions will significantly speed up the whole process.
Why not just compost leaves with other garden waste?
Leaves have a fibrous structure and are slow to rot down. Mixing with conventional compost material will slow down your compost heap and reduce its heat generation. Leafmould making is a slow cool process performed by fungi (hence mould) naturally present in leaves. On the other hand composting is a faster, heat generating process utilising naturally occurring microbes and bacteria.
What leaves can I use?
Virtually any tree or shrub leaves will make a good leafmould. Oak and beech leaves are perhaps a bit quicker to rot and plane, chestnut and sycamore leaves a bit slower.
The typical ph (acidity/alkalinity) of leafmould is between 6.5 and 7.5 ie about neutral. A preponderance of conifer an evergreen leaves or needles will tend to produce a more acidic leafmould. Such acidic leafmould would be excellent for acid loving plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons.
What if I don’t have enough leaves in my garden?
Friends and neighbours will probably be only too keen to let you have their autumn leaf fall. Additionally local authorities collect thousands of tons of leaves each year. So a word with the council, or your local parks department could easily generate a serious quantity of leaves.
To make the best use of your leafmould
Leafmould is one of the longest lasting of all organic soil conditioners. By significantly improving both the organic content and physical structure of soil it results in a considerable increase in fertility wherever applied – all round the garden.
Leafmould can be used to great benefit on vegetable and ornamental beds, for annuals and perennials, and around fruit trees, bushes and shrubs.
Used on any soil type it can be dug in or spread as a surface mulch.
Use just like peat or bark as a quality surface mulch. For water retention purposes spread a layer of 1-1.5 inches. For water retention and weed suppression a layer of 2-2.5 inches.
Fine well rotted leafmould makes an excellent top dressing for a lawn or seed bed. It is useful, although not essential, to sieve the leafmould prior to using it as a top dressing. For top dressing a lawn the best time is in the main growing season. Apply a thin layer of fine leafmould after spiking the lawn, then simply brush it in. If required this can be repeated several times during the grass growing season.
Mix 1 part of well rotted and sieved leafmould with 1 part of sharp sand. This will produce an excellent free rotting medium with sufficient nutrients for seedings up to pricking off stage.
Making a potting compost
Being similar to sedge peat, leafmould is a useful constituent of a potting compost. Two typical formulas are outlined below:-
1 part well rotted leafmould
1 part garden loam
2 parts compost
1 part well rotted leafmould
1 part worm worked compost
1 part garden loam
1 part perlite
Win a Leaf Composter Kit
For this month’s competition we want your top winter composting tips!
The best ones will make it onto our website in one of our new composting guides.
In less than 400 characters tell us why your winter composting tip gives you the advantage in early spring when you start potting and planting.
The top tips will then be added to a poll for you to vote on.
You can email your entry to: firstname.lastname@example.org – or post a hard copy to us at Original Organics Ltd, Leafmould Competition, Unit 9 Langlands Business Park, Uffculme, Devon, EX15 3DA.
There are a few conditions :-
1) In sending us your tips, you give us full permission to use them, uncredited, in our promotional material on or offline.
2) Our staff will shortlist the top tips, but the final vote will take place on our Blog – With a Poll deciding the winner. A further email will be sent in advance of this taking place to let you know where to vote.
3) You may submit as many tips as you like but only your best one will be eligible to make it into the shortlist
4) Entries must be received by 11:00am on Thursday 31st October 2013.
Septembers Competition Result: Bokashi Spray Composter
The winner is Keziah from Surrey
Congratulations Keziah, i hope you enjoy your new Bokashi Spray Composter
Thank you for all the entries, we have taken note of your comments and will continue to work hard to give you a great shopping experience with us.
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