How can I accelerate the decomposition of leaves in my compost pile?
Leaves contain high levels of carbon and small amounts of nitrogen. The microbes that decompose leaves and other types of organic matter require nitrogen for their own metabolism and growth. A compost pile composed mainly of leaves decomposes slowly because the leaves don’t contain adequate levels of nitrogen for the microbes.
To promote decomposition, mix leaves with grass clippings or other materials high in nitrogen. If possible, shred the leaves prior to composting. The smaller the size of the material, the faster it will decompose.
Construct the compost pile in layers. Each 6- to 8-inch-layer of plant material should be topped with 1 inch of soil or compost. A small amount of an all-purpose garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, can also be added to supply nitrogen to the microbes. Continue to build the compost pile in layers until it is 3 to 5 feet high.
Finally, water the pile regularly and turn it about once every two weeks.