Making Compost In a Plastic Bag with Leaves

With the economy so tough, it’s satisfying to make something so valuable that requires such a small financial investment. Why let the city get all of your soil-boosting raw materials? They’ll just turn it into compost themselves, and then make you pay for it next Spring when you buy your mulch. It’s not hard, or too time consuming, to keep some of the leaves for yourself and turn it into compost. Don’t worry if you missed your chance this fall. Some trees save their big drop for the Spring.

Last Spring, at the lake, the trees left us with over 120 black plastic bags of fallen leaves that spiraled like a twisting river of black.

Now, that I have this summer garden to maintain, the wheels in my head began to spin, scheming a plan to turn these fallen leaves into black gold. Because we always have so much work to do up at the lake, my method had to be simple. Also, I limited myself to making only 15 bags of compost — which was actually harder than you might think. Once you get started filling those bags, it’s hard to control yourself from making as much black gold as possible. It is free, after all.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need.

  • Black Plastic Bags, heavy duty, 30-40 gallon size: Requires no building of a special structure. (You could also turn a plastic compost bag inside out and re-use that.)
  • Leaves:They’re everywhere right now, this is the “abundance” you’ve been looking for.
  • One shovelful of soil/per bag: This provides the organisms that ultimately degrade the leaves.
  • A splash of water in each bag.
  • Handful of nitrogen fertilizer — or some “greens:” There was no nitrogen fertilizer available, and you know how I hate to cut up my day to go to Walmart, so I used the vines from the Jack-In-The-Beanstalk fort, along with the tomato vines. No beans? Use grass clippings.
  • A 2-litter bottle of Coke: I read somewhere that coke is supposed to help your compost. So, I added a splash of coke to each compost bag.

Close bag tightly, to leave out air, and let bags sit for six months to a year. A sunny spot is preferred, but just put them in an out-of -the way place, and forget about them.

Yes, I did make 15 bags at the lake, and another five at home. Both sets are sitting behind their respective garages. No other attention is required! No turning!

Heed this warning: Make sure your compost is “ready” before you add it to your soil. If the leaves are not completely decomposed (if you can still tell they’re leaves) they will continue to decompose in your garden, and stress out your plants, leaching nitrogen. So, give it some time to make sure you have crumbly earth — not crumbled leaves — to add to your garden.

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6 comments to “Making Compost In a Plastic Bag with Leaves”
  1. Pingback: The Garlic and Turtles are Safely Planted — Susiej

  2. I’ve done black bag composting in the past on a small scale, and just popped the leaves into the black plastic bags, using a plastic zip tie, and then punched plenty of holes in each bag, and left them alone, exposed to both rain and sun for a year. When I opened them, everything was composted into a wholesome black mess, which contained numerous earth worms, some as thick as a finger.

    I’ve just had 100 bags prepared and look forward to the next 12 months passing by quickly to spring, 2013.

    I live near Richmond VA, and would like to hear from anyone in the general area who is doing compost gardening. By-the-way, I am a Mr. not a Miss, Ms. or Mrs. It’s the name that confuses people.

  3. You are the only one that I have found so far that does not recommend putting holes in the bags. I thought that holes and occasional watering were needed to make compost.

    I intend to use three mil, 42 gallon bags. My son uses a riding lawnmower that shreds the oak leaves and grass clippings that I will use along with some cow manure and soil. I expect to have good compost by next spring.

    Is there something wrong with what I am doing?

  4. I’m worried that toxic chemicals will leach out of the plastic when it heats up and ages. So much for organic food.????

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