One last trip to the local yard waste site to dump branches and invasives as fall yard clean-up continues.  Bagged grass and fall leaves have been added to the compost bins along with debris from the vegatable gardens clean-up, in anticipation of lots of compost ready for next spring’s planting season.

Compost production diverts yard materials from landfills into productive use. Compost is a soil-like material rich in stabilized carbon produced from the breakdown of organic materials (materials that contain carbon). Most compost is considered a soil conditioner or amendment, not a fertilizer, because compost usually doesn’t contain very high levels of macro-nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – N, P, K). However, compost may provide low levels of macro and trace nutrients essential to plant growth. The primary benefit of compost is that it increases soil organic matter, improving soil water holding capacity and soil physical properties and allowing for greater plant root penetration. Compost increases soil biodiversity (number and type of microbes and other small creatures in the soil), which helps plants obtain nutrients from soil, and maintains a balance among organisms to help prevent outbreaks of disease causing organisms.

Our stainless steel compost bucket sits next to the kitchen sink to be filled with:

The lid has a rim to allow insertion of charcoal filters to prevent absorb odors.

When full, the pail is carried out to add to yard waste in our compost bin, partially hidden behind the lilac bushes by the back garage service door.

Compost recipe

Compost Bin

Compost bins available at Outagamie County
Recycling and Solid Waste Office
(and facilities in numerous other counties
around Wisconsin) for $45. 
Compost bin hidden behind lilac bushes,
conveniently located outside garage service door,
not far from kitchen door to deck.
Compost bin system that allows moving compost from bin to bin as it composts allowing compost to be easily turned and processed over the months

Until we invest in one of these systems we have added a second bin next to our original bin to allow us to compost larger amounts of kitchen wastes and coffee grounds from our favorite local coffee shops during the winter after adding grass and leaves this fall.

Mulching with unprocessed yard materials as a soil cover around plants, shrubs, and trees should enhance moisture retention and suppress weed growth. Yard materialsused as mulch include shredded bark purchased to add throughout the course of the growing season, grass clippings (that have not been treated with herbicides and contain little seed as overgrown grass might), leaves,  and pine needles.
Grass clippings have been left on the lawn when mowing all season, instead of bagging, to add allow them to decompose adding nitrogen back to the soil.  Grass was bagged and added to the composter and to a newly established planting bed seeded with native plant seeds gathered ithe yard.
Pine needles have been left under the pine tree where they fall where they can condition the soil and protect the shallow root system of their parent tree. While pine needles are high in acid and resin, which can make them difficult to compost, they  make a good mulch for acid loving plants such as lilies of the valley, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, roses and conifers.