Compost is one of the best materials to use to supply organic matter and increase soil fertility in the garden. If the soil is well-supplied with organic matter, has good drainage, and there is enough sunlight, the plants should thrive and produce abundantly. The tomatoes and beans will do their best to show their apprectiation.
Tree leaves, one of the best materials for composting, are really coming down now.If raked into a pile, enclosed by woven wire to hold them in place and kept somewhat moist, micro-organisms will bring about decay. Next summer you'll have some high-class organic matter for the garden (some call it artificial manure).
If isn't quite that simple, but neither is it particularly difficult. You'll need a place for the compost pile - a rectangular area 8 by 10 feet should be about right for the average compost pile. Bad odors need not be a problem; they can be prevented.
Place a layer of loose leaves, two feet deep, on the ground inside the enclosure. It is better to start the compost pile above ground because it allows good aeration. If aeration is poor, bad odors result.
Other materials can be mixed with the leaves if they are available. A small amount of good top soil mixed with the leaves will speed decay. Sprinkle 20 pounds of 5-10-5 fertilizer over the two-foot layer of leaves. Wet thoroughly. Then, on top of the leaves you can put a two-inch layer of soil (it is not neussan). The soil keeps the nitrogen from leaching (washing) away.
Add another two-foot layer of leaves and tramp thoroughly. Sprinkle 20 pounds of 5-10-5 fertilizer to the new larger of leaves and wet thoroughly. And another two-inch layer of soil, if possible.
The add a last layer of leaves, two feet deep, sprinkle with 20 pounds of 5-10-5 and drench with water. Add two inches of soil if it is available.
After the pile is completed, water it during prolonged dry weather to keep the materials moist but not dripping wet.
Shredding the leaves speed composting considerably. They can be shredded by running over them with a rotary mower two or three times. Using a shredded is much easier.
The compost pile usually heats up in a few days. The heat is generated by bilogical oxidation. The temperature may reach 150 degrees F., followed by a gradual cooling to air temperatures.
If the soil does not heat up, it may be due to using too much or not enough moisture, which can decrease or stop the heat-generating microbiological activity.