We rake our leaves not really to clean up the yard, but to make compost. Our yard’s leaf litter should provide a few loads, or some good mulch material. We used a leaf blower on reverse to suck up and mulch our leaves, which helps everything break down much more quickly.
We were lent a great book on composting, Mike McGrath’s Book of Compost. I think it could be very generally summarized in three points:
- Keep it aerobic.
- Keep it moistened.
- Keep the carbon to nitrogen/brown to green ratio (30:1) ration in check.
Making sure you have enough carbon is probably the hardest part. We’re lucky because we have all our chicken bedding. Most animal bedding, according to McGrath, turns out to be an ideal mix of carbon and nitrogen, so it composts pretty much on its own. Actually, I stirred the coop’s bedding the other day, and the stuff near the water trough was already cooking. Dead leaves are another perfect compost material, and don’t need any nitrogen or carbon manipulation either.
One of the “treasures” left on our farm was a white plastic box/shell thing. We drilled holes in the sides and bottom, stuck some pallets in as dividers, and called it a compost bin. It’s handy, since we can turn the compost from one bin into another. The chickens like to check it out too. We’ve had a wheelbarrow full of finished compost already, and used it to mulch the garlic we planted.