Seize the moment. Autumn's gold!

It occurred to me recently that actually the 'brown' ingredients we know we must add to our compost heaps to get a good result, are not as available as we think throughout the year.  What we do know is that a good mix of 'greens' and 'browns' in our heaps will give best results and, annoyingly, 'greens' often overwhelm the 'browns'.  But it's autumn again! and at this time in the gardening year carbon-rich compost ingredients abound.

Small woody prunings from shrubs, falling leaves and annuals past their prime and a bit 'woody', provide a wealth of carbon-rich ingredients which will bring benefits for your heap as they decompose through the year. The season’s carbon-rich materials also create air pockets to aerate the heap which speeds up the composting process and helps keep the pile sweet smelling.

A good, healthy compost pile will have about two-thirds carbon (brown) materials and one-third nitrogen (green) and don’t worry that you won’t have enough of the green, nitrogen rich stuff – you will! Grass clippings are still available and your organic kitchen scraps – fruit and veg peelings, rotten fruit or slimy lettuce – will be on-going throughout the year.

So seize the chance this season.

  • If you begin with those falling leaves deciduous leaves are best especially if they have turned brown before you rake them.  You could leave those that have fallen under shrubs and trees where they will compost themselves. Have you got too many leaves? Why not give leaf composting a go?
  • Then continue to collect the skeletons of finished annuals, both summer flowering plants past their best and veg plants like woody beetroot and summer cabbage stalks will add vital carbon.  Remember cutting stems and thicker parts into smaller bite-size bits means they will break down more easily in the heap.

I have added my slug eaten marigold plants and the stems and outer leaves some cabbage plants.

Not only do you get a great heap with all the right ingredients for splendid compost but your garden will look a whole lot tidier too!  I'd love to know how you get on, Annie.

P.S. Enter our autumn competition  'My compost creation'.

It couldn't be easier. Just take a photo of your garden (which you have grown to perfection with the help of your home-made compost of course) and email it to  All photos will be posted on Pinterest and everyone can 'like' their favourite.  The one with the most 'likes' wins!  WSCC partner Get Composting Straight Ltd have kindly donated the prize of a Mini Rainsaver Water Butt kit (rrp £37.95). You have until the end of September to capture your garden's autumn beauty and enter.  Don't forget to look at the entries on Pinterest too.


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