Request for Leaves

Do you have piles and piles of leaves in your yard? If you are not sure what to do with the leaves you rake, Briggs Avenue Community Garden would like to have them!

It’s that time of year — Briggs Avenue Community Garden is taking/accepting donations of bagged leaves. We shred and compost the leaves to mulch in the garden, and we will gladly take them off your hands (for free!)

Please help us spread the word to all of your friends and neighbors — the leaves help us build the soils and prevent weeds from setting in this winter. This can be especially helpful to folks who don’t pay for yard waste pickup.

Load up your car and drop them off at the front entrance gate of Briggs Avenue Community Garden (the garden is across the street from East Coast Metal Distributing at 1313 South Briggs Avenue, Durham NC 27703.) You can pull up at the curb and drop the bags at the front entrance gate, outside the fence, any time day or night.

P.S. We do not/cannot accept other yard waste — JUST LEAVES! Sorry about that — no sticks, no grass clippings, no wood….

-Ann Barnes

Super Composting

Super Composting

by Michelle Wallace, Consumer Horticulture Agent – DurhamNC Cooperative Extension

Fall is here! And look out, your average Joe Gardener turns into a modern day Super Composter. He is the new Super Hero, saving leaves as they fall, and preventing them from landing in the county dump. He makes it look so easy, blowing leaves with a single hand. Mounding them up in the back of his house. Then mowing them over with his super lawnmower mulcher with bag attachment, he pours them out into three 3’x 4’piles at a time. With his super watering wand sprinkles just enough water to moisten up the piles so that just a few droplets of water leave his hand when squeezing a handful of leaves. Ah, our Super Composter’s job is done. All that left is a once a month turn of the leaf pile with his super pitch fork and in 4 to 9 months time the super compost is ready!

Leaf composting is so easy and so beneficial. I am certain many of you will make an effort to become a Super Composter this year. Really, the microorganisms which already exist in the leaves do all the work to break down the leaves. Once broken down, the leaf compost has the look and texture of crumbly chocolate cake. Providing that the composting piles are regularly aerated and kept moist (but not water laden), the compost will have an earthy scent and no foul odors.

Leaf compost can then be incorporated into the existing soil, which improves the soil texture. This will greatly improve your ability to garden in our Durham clay soils. Clay soils, in general, contain a high nutrient content and a high water holding capacity. Improving the soil texture by adding leaf compost improves the soil’s ability to drain water, makes the soil more pliable, and improves the ability for nutrient uptake to occur in plants. Leaf compost is not a substitute for fertilizer. It is considered more of a soil conditioner.

If 4 to 9 months seems a long time to wait for super compost, it is possible to speed the decomposition process up by adding fertilizer. 5 ounces (about a ½ cup) of 10% Nitrogen fertilizer can be added to a 20 gal container of hand compacted leaves (The State of New Jersey, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet FS074). This increases the nutrient content of the leaf compost as well, however adding fertilizer in general is not necessary in order to create leaf compost.

So this year, become a new modern day super hero, a Super Composter, save leaves, save the environment, reduce waste, improve the soil, and save money. It’s all in a good days work.

For more information about composting and other garden related issues, call or visit the Durham County Master Gardeners office at (919) 560-0528 located at 721 Foster Street in Durham.

Want to learn more about composting?

November 4, 2-4 pm at Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Learn the basics of composting, including traditional methods, vermiculture and how to compost in your home garden. We will discuss temperature, composition, proportions, bin selection, troubleshooting and benefits. Presented by Master Gardeners of Durham County. Please see Extension website for complete program information: Free; pre-registration required. Parking fees apply. (919) 668-1707.

December 11, 6:30 – 8 PM at Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Solid waste specialist Rhonda Sherman will provide an overview of how you can put your garbage to use in the garden, and the benefits you will harvest. Free parking. (919) 668-1707. $10, free for Durham Garden Forum members.