Still have leaf piles? Maybe it’s time to compost instead of bagging

DES MOINES — Mild temperatures this fall left leaves lingering on Iowa’s trees longer than normal, and after a cold, snowy weekend a couple of weeks ago, the branches are now mostly bare.

The weather this week may afford the chance to rake up the last of those leaves, but if you get stuck with a pile, soil scientist Carl Rosen says it may be a great time to start composting. “I collect my leaves in the fall and I compost them through the following year,” Rosen says, “and then the following fall I’ll mix that in in the garden or the following spring before planting my vegetables.”

Rosen says composting science is all about soil health, but for many that was not the original problem to be solved.  “The initial motivation however was more due to sending all those leaves to landfills,” Rosen says.

Creating and maintaining a compost pile only requires a quick and easy checklist, he says, and it’s relatively simple. “Basically, water, air, oxygen and they need nutrients,” he says, “and if you have those in balance then that’s kind of the key to the composting process.”

Learn more about composting at the Iowa D-N-R website: