Forget about the Leaf Bags Altogether and Start Composting!

| 22 Comments
compost_bin.jpgThe possibility of no one depositing a pack of leaf bags on each Metuchen doorstep anymore had the town all a-Twitter over the past week. In the context of all the discussions about 'greening' our communities that clog the airwaves these days, perhaps the answer to all our problems is a commitment to composting! Start with leaves and eventually work your way down to food composting. For a primer on how to do leaf composting properly, the NJ Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers will explain it all for you--and some others, too. A great way to save money, time, and the environment is to GO GREEN!  No St. Patrick's Day pun intended.

22 Comments

Well, I hate to tell you but they applied the same law to Metuchen. If it rains here the same leaves go down the same drain into the same type of rivers.

I know what the former Mayor of Metuchen told me when I said we should ignore the law. I recall him saying that our tax rates will go up from fines if we failed to remove the leaves including our properties. I know what you wrote,"The state law about leaves has to do with towns that vacuum them up from the street." but I am here to tell you that the collection applies to the home owner as well. Which is why I raised it with the former Mayor. He told me that we had to remove the leaves off of our lawns.

Now, until last year we also had a home in the town that was the impetus of where this law started. I am here to tell you that we were told by that township that all leaves had to be off our property seven days prior to collection the township which then of course we dumped on the front of our property for vacuuming or we would be fined for not collecting the leaves.

As to pollution, your comment "There is more runoff pollution from people who put chemicals on their lawns than from people who don't rake their leaves." I do not necessarily disagree with that opinion, but it sure seems to me that our state is placing an emphasis on leaf pollution. Else why make a law that covers both Metuchen and Southampton Township when it was really only meant for Southampton?

As you can tell, I do not think much of the law but it is designed to ensure that leaves are removed from your property of that I have no doubt.

The state law about leaves has to do with towns that vacuum them up from the street but were letting the leaves sit there for weeks before they got around to it. If it rained in the meantime the leaves were filling the storm sewers and washing down to the rivers. The seven days is the time the leaves can remain in the street, not on your lawn.

There is more runoff pollution from the people who put chemicals on their lawns than from people who don't rake their leaves.

Whomever provided that information on tonnage figures for leaf collection thank you. It says a lot. Working out the numbers I am pretty close to (within in two bags) to wit the town average of composting that amoount in leaves every year on my property in a 24 x 4 garden.

While the other 150 bags or 1.3 tons is definitely going to pickup because my property can not support it. Someone else can use it.

The issue and I think everyone overlooks this is what can you safely support on your property for reuse while still maintaining a green lawn and avoiding run off. Make no mistake the state is enforcing its three year old law on leaf collection becuase of polution. You just can not keep allow leaves to remain on lawns anymore. The towns/homeowner has seven days to remove. Of course I and our nice neighbors have a couple of neighbors who still have not cleaned up their lawns. But come next year we are going to do something about it. Thanks again

That's great. Have your lawn-service neighbors ever pointed it out to you in that certain tone of voice? Our kids like it when we let one big patch of clover grow for a couple weeks. They lie down in it and we pretend we can't see them.

Thanks for the laugh, better than trying, again, to point out how huge a pile of leaves would be in our yard - we have clover, don't use pesticides.

The guy who wrote the Rutgers composting brochure is named Frank Flower! LOL!

Some of those people who try to keep a nice yard are the ones polluting our rivers with fertilizer and pesticide runoff. A little clover in your lawn isn't the end of the world.

Any why is it that their yard has to be perfect, but then they leave the brown bags of grass clippings sitting at the curb or in the street all week every week.

I would rather see a pile of leaves in the back corner of someone's yard than see and smell bags of grass clippings in front of their house all summer.

If you're creative, you could make a compost bin that looks like a kids playhouse. Say, maybe when they kids are older we'll repurpose their playhouse into a compost bin, hmmm.

You could also screen your leaf pile with a few shrubs or with vines on lattice.

But you're right, most people won't do it. There are still quite a few people who don't bother to recycle anything at all.

And some people think having a vegetable garden is unsightly. Go figure.

Obviously those people do think it is reasonable. However, I can't imagine where I would put the pile of over 550 lbs of leaves, that pile would be so unsightly that leaving them un-raked would seem a better alternative.

We could take it to the extreme and stop raking, stop doing our lawns, which are greener alternatives to the mowing, etc. However, in the balance of keeping our town looking nice and being green, I'm proposing that perhaps a town-wide initiative that encourages people to be more green, including those of us who are, but try to keep a nice yard, would be a better solution that either having those bins, or large, rotting leaf piles all over our yard.

Some people are already doing it. Obviously those people think it is reasonable. Some people can't even be bothered to do any recycling at all. Those people won't think it's reasonable.

So is it reasonable to think that people will/can compost 550 lbs? I bet we have double that based on our yard size - seems as though a comprehensive town plan would be much more feasible.

Tons of leaves recycled in 2008 = 1,402 tons.

Total housing units = 5104

Average pounds recycled per household = 550 lbs.

The total leaves would be even higher if you added in the people who compost, and the people who have them hauled away by their landscapers.

(Then there's the people who blow them into the street or into their neighbor's yards, but that's another story.)

The county offers subsidized compost bins for sale. From the MCIA website:

COMPOST BINS
Composting is a natural process by which grass clippings, yard waste and even kitchen scraps that are gathered break down or decompose to form a rich soil-like substance to fertilize or condition soil.

The Middlesex County Division of Solid Waste Management subsidizes the sale of compost bins to County residents.

Bins can only be purchased on the first and third Wednesday of each month, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., at the MCIA Recycling Office, 55 Edgeboro Road, East Brunswick.

Four types of bins are available, ranging in price from $5 to $40. A free kitchen pail and composting guide are included with each purchase.

For information on bins: Call the Middlesex County Division of Solid Waste Management (732) 745-4170, or e-mail solidwaste@co.middlesex.nj.us.

For information on composting: Call the Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension Master Gardener Helpline (732) 398-2586, or visit www.rce.rutgers.edu. A Guide to Backyard Composting is available from the Division of Solid Waste Management.

You can do that now. We get leaf compost back from the county, and homeowners can request it. You can also get wood chips from DPW.

Edison has a lot more land and more room to build a leaf pile.

Even what Edison does involves picking up the leaves. If you compost them in your yard you save that expense too.

I wonder how big a pile all of the Metuchen leaves would make! If we pile all our leaves on top of those stumps and big logs we are paying $500 each to dispose of, how long it would take for them to break down?

Can we do what Edison does, and have mulch/compost made by town leaves and sticks for Metuchenites use by pickup?

Well, I disagree with you there. Because you can determine the cubic yard space each household on an average needs to compost and second I could ask DPW but we already have a post open on this so let's see if we can get the numbers now while pertinent.

Average figures don't really matter to a particular homeowner. Only their own personal number matters to them. We have one pile with leaves from three houses. Our neighbors across the street have a pile and don't bag any, so that is four houses that send zero bags to the county pile.

You can call or email DPW and ask them directly for the tonnage of leaves recycled by the town.

http://www.metuchennj.org/phone_directory.html

"Clearly some people will just have too many" I think may be a majority of people. But,I just do not know either.

I would like to know the tonnage of bag material picked up by DPW. We then divide that by the number of residences in Metuchen to come up with a tonnage or sub tonnage per household yield per annum. Councilman Weber or Manley can you answer that question? Thank you.

Since we don't bag I don't know how many bags we would have if we did. We also take leaves from our neighbor and put them in our pile. We don't have a space issue.

That link from the Dallas News has some good options and very simple instructions.

Clearly some people will just have too many, and will still need to get rid of some.

You can run over them a few times with your lawnmower and they take up much less space. If you have an area you use as a vegetable garden, spread the chopped up leaves over that area.

Some people just spread chopped wet leaves in their landscape beds as if it was mulch and let it compost in place.

We feed our vegetable scraps to our rabbit.

We put out approximately 85 bags of leaves - so how much of my yard will be devoted to a composting pile? Seems like that would be a big pile of rotting leaves.

My parents compost food in a container designed for that purpose, and yes, likely made of a petrochemical plastic (as big as the leaf one shown) and have no mice, tho it is smelly when you open the top - once closed, no smell.

I have had a home made composting bin which was based on the design in the Victory Garden Book- Unfortunately because we don't have a big property I had scale back and make a single bin but it works very well, although I do end up using leaf bags in the end because there are just too many leaves. But I compost many veggies and other food items including coffee grounds- it makes for great compost.

Can't tell how big that container is, but all you really need is a pile of leaves. Run them over with the lawn mower first to chop them up, they take up less space and break down faster. Layer them with some dirt and hose down the pile when it hasn't rained for awhile. Every once in awhile, fluff it. If you don't put chemicals on your lawn, sprinkle in some grass clippings too. But too many grass clippings will make it smell and ruin the pile. Shape it like a volcano with a depression in the middle and it will hold more water.

Somehow it doesn't seem very "green" to put your compost in a petrochemical plastic product.

And definitely skip the food composting - smells bad and attracts flies and critters. My parents did it, it was gross, and they always had mice.

This site has some interesting options for leaves.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/fea/home/gardening/stories/DN-NHG_chores_1123liv.ART.State.Edition1.371cbd0.html

This one has a picture of a low tech compost pile.

http://www.thecompostbin.com/2008/11/composting-leaves.html

That Rutgers site took forever to load and the brochure was from 1991. I guess there haven't been any advances in composting lately!

Leave a comment


Recent Comments

  • Anonymous: Well, I hate to tell you but they applied the read more
  • Anonymous: The state law about leaves has to do with towns read more
  • Anonymous: Whomever provided that information on tonnage figures for leaf collection read more
  • Anonymous: That's great. Have your lawn-service neighbors ever pointed it out read more
  • Anonymous: Thanks for the laugh, better than trying, again, to point read more
  • Anonymous: The guy who wrote the Rutgers composting brochure is named read more
  • Anonymous: Some of those people who try to keep a nice read more
  • Anonymous: Obviously those people do think it is reasonable. However, I read more
  • Anonymous: Some people are already doing it. Obviously those people think read more
  • Anonymous: So is it reasonable to think that people will/can compost read more

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.21-en
/