Autumn leaves make great pumpkins!

Now is the time!

Grab a few sacks on the next fine day and fill them with autumn leaves, the nice dry fluffy ones. Even better, keep an eye on what your neighbours are doing, maybe they’ll do all the work filling sacks and you can just sweetly ask for them when they’re ready.

Sacks of leaves make great soil, especially in combination with Bokashi. Without Bokashi you’ll get a sack full of lovely leaf compost in two or three years. If you toss in a few Bokashi buckets in each sack during the winter you’ll most likely find the contents will turn to soil during the coming spring and summer.

There’s two tricks (three, if you count getting your neighbors to do all  the work :-)).

Winter: line up your sacks nice and close to the kitchen door. That way you won’t have to go far to empty your Bokashi buckets. As long as it’s reasonably dry in the sacks (and we’re talking plastic sacks here) you won’t have any smell at all. No rats or mice either as they’ll find it too acidic. But the trick is not having to wade through snow and rain to get to them, chances are I’m not the only lazy one round here. Keep the bags sealed with a tie or clip. If it’s feeling a bit damp throw in a newspaper or two to take up the condensation.

Spring: move the sacks to a nice sunny spot, the warmer the better. OK, I’m talking northern European climates here where it never gets TOO hot! If you live somewhere with real heat you’d probably want to find a place that’s just warm. The microbes from the Bokashi will spring into action and team up with the microbes that came in with the autumn leaves — together they’ll trigger the soil-making process.

If you’re looking for some good mulch early on in the season you should find one of these bags just perfect. The food waste will be pretty much gone, absorbed up into the leaf mulch. Give it a couple of months longer and you’ll have a nice bag of potting mix. The leaves don’t have a lot of nutrition but the Bokashi  certainly does, how strong it is depends on the mix you used.

Chances are some worms will have made their way in, if not you can always plant in a few. Pop a few air vents for the guys. Some small slits in the bottom of the sack would let worms in and out and also let the bag drain if needed.

I’ve spoken to a few people who do this in their greenhouse and think it works really well. Which is quite smart because it’s usually nice and warm in there and cuts down on handling if you’re planning to use the soil in the greenhouse come spring. One tip is to position the sacks on your planting beds and let them drain in the spots you most want to fertilize.

Another cool idea is to plant directly in the sacks come spring. Ideal if you want to grow pumpkins or something that wants rich, warm soil. Lay out the sacks in the growing spot, make slits where you want to plant and poke in a bit of plain soil. Pop in the pumpkin. That’s it! Even if the food waste is still evident in the bag the plants will be able to take up the nutrients directly — that’s the whole point of Bokashi.

And it’s the perfect way to grow stuff on a weedy spot. The bags will act like a quarantine for the growing pumpkin plants (or whatever!) — keeping nutrients in, weeds out, and on top of it kill off the weeds under the bag. And when the pumpkins are harvested it’s just to slice up the bag and mulch down the lot.

Could be a fun idea for schools and pre-schools? It’s kind of fun to see how the food waste goes in one end and pumpkins come out the other. A project that could start and finish at Halloween.

Way more fun than throwing the stuff in the bin!

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