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Kitchen Gardening

Round Those Leaves Up, Y’all

I've come up with a quick DIY project that will help you ''corral'' the great and FREE garden resource - leaves. I call it the Fall leaf collection bin.

To “fall”ow Patti Moreno’s lead (and great article), I’ve come up with a quick DIY project that will help you ”corral” this great and FREE garden resource. I call it the Fall leaf collection bin. Note that I did NOT call it a compost bin. Let me explain.

I don’t have any trees in my own yard, so the leaves that do show up are coming from neighboring trees. In addition, I have a couple of friends who are more than willing to let me haul theirs off.

As you know, proper composting requires both “green” and “brown” materials. I have more green material than I can shake a cultivator at in the form of grass clippings and plants. This is where the hefty leaf requirement comes in. Like the squirrels in my yard who have to stockpile their supply of nuts for the winter, I feel I need to come up with enough brown leaf material to last most of the upcoming season.

Enter the collection bin. With minimal materials and effort, I was able to construct an attractive and functional leaf collector. Here’s how it’s done:

SUPPLIES:

1. One roll of metal poultry netting (also called ‘chicken wire’ or ‘hardware cloth’). I would recommend at least the 24-inch high size. The perimeter length of your bin will determine how long of a roll you’ll need. The one I built is approximately 4-feet by 10-feet, so the 25-foot roll I purchased gave me enough, plus a few extra feet.

2. Six to ten wooden stakes. I recommend the 36-inch tall ones that already have a point on them. This eliminates time required in cutting down longer pieces. In the hardware store/home centers here you can get them in wrapped packs of 15 or 20 I recall.

3. Staple gun. This is the fastest way I know to attach wire fencing to plywood.

4. Hammer.

5. Tape measure.

6. Leaf rake.

CONSTRUCTION:

1. Buy required materials.

2. Measure out the area you want the bin to be.

3. Hammer in the stakes evenly-spaced.

4. Roll out the wire material to the required length.

5. Starting at any corner, staple the wire material to the wooden stakes, creating a “fence”. When you get to a corner, it helps to bend the wire at a 90-degree angle to fit it more securely there.

6. Throw in your leaves and spread evenly with a rake.

Yes, I know. In the simplest sense, this bin could also be used as a slow-producing compost pile. My intent here was to take into consideration everyone’s time, or lack thereof, since the holidays are upon us.

Building one of these allows you to throw all of your fallen leaves in one spot, for easy access when you need them for mulch or composting. It’s more attractive as well. This project only took me a couple of hours, plus the time to get materials.

So grab your wire, rake, stakes, and hammer and start corralling. (Yee-haw)

Learn more about leaves and leaf bins:

Leaf Mold as a Soil Conditioner
Video: A Simple Compost Bin
• A Starter Compost Heap
Fall Leaves Make a Great Garden Mulch

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