Fertilizers are commonly used among both professional farmers and home gardeners. But its not always clear what the uses of fertilizers in agriculture are. In some cases, the soil itself does have all the necessary nutrients that allow the plants to grow. However, if that is not the case, farmers have to employ additional fertilizing methods to avoid nutrient deficiency. In simple terms, if your plants don’t have access to enough nutrients they will stop growing.
Although there are many store-bought fertilizers available on the market, they are mainly intended for large farmers, who are too busy to make their own compost. On the other hand, if you have a smaller garden near your home, you can opt for an organic fertilizer instead. One of the common choices amongst farmers is a fertilizer made from leaves that pile up in their yard. That is one of the most efficient and easiest options you could go for, so it will be a focus of our article.
Benefits of making an organic fertilizer from leaves
According to recent research, yard litter that mainly consists of fallen leaves accounts for around 20% of all waste in the US. To be more specific, more than 35 million tons of leaves were sent to be used in a landfill every year.
The Environmental Protection Agency developed a program, that allows most of this waste to be recycled and reused for compost or as an energy source. Thus many experts recommend the citizens to also use their leaves instead of marking them as garbage. With a few simple steps, you can repurpose them for composting, and improve your soil and water quality.
Leaves are packed with nutrients that trees soak up during the year. As a matter of fact, recent studies have shown that you can find around 75 percent of the nutrients that the tree took up in its leaves.
The benefits of leaves go beyond just feeding your plants. They will also attract more useful microbes an warms and allow usually sandy soil to retain significantly more moisture. Additionally, they will also protect delicate plants from the cold weather. The exact nutrients you can find in leaves depend on the tree, but each tree has it’s own benefits and can be used for composting purposes.
Last but not least, by using your leaves for gardening instead of packing them to a bag and send it off as waste, you will help the environment and become more self-sustainable. To top it all, you will also save money you would usually spend on factory produced fertilizers.
How to turn leaves into a fertilizer
Now to the practical part of the article. You don’t have to be an expert to create your own organic compost, if you follow our simple but effective methods. There are two main options, where one is quicker and simpler, while the other preserves more nutrients in the long run.
One of the easiest options when it comes to leaf compost is shredding your leaves and storing them in a makeshift bin so that they develop mold. You could also purchase a bin on Amazon or nearby store, but make sure it is large enough. All you have to do basically is filling your bin with leaves and soak them up in water. Cover them with a fabric or nylon and leave them that way.
The benefit of this method is that it retains moisture to an exceptional level and gradually decomposes so your plants will get nutrients in a more natural, slow manner. A disadvantage is that it might take up to two years for the leaves to develop mold. Thus, you could combine
this technique with regular composting.
To use this method you’ll need to get a leaf shredder. Some gardeners are trying alternative options, like collecting all their leaves to a pile and running them over with their lawnmower. In each case, you have to make sure the leaves are as ground as possible. This way they will decompose much more quickly and penetrate your soil more efficiently.
The easiest way to use shredded leaves is by covering your soil directly. In a few months, you can expect it to be packed with nutrients, and you will notice many earthworms as proof that you’ve succeeded. You can also use them to protect your plants from the cold. Just cover them up with about 5-inch thick layer of leaves, and you can expect to have fresh vegetables throughout the winter.
This method requires a bit more work but you’ll be able to use your compost straight away. Also, compost preserves much more nutrients in the leaves when compared to leafmold.
Regardless of what method you go for, making a fertilizer from leaves will be beneficial both for your own garden and soil and for the environment in general.