Fall: A great time for compost. Try leaves.

Fall is possibly the best time of year to APPLY compost to your landscape: it’ll have a few months to settle in and nourish the soil with all of its magical properties.

Fall is also possibly the best time of year to try out MAKING compost because very easy materials to compost – leaves – are abundantly available.

In mid-October, I gave a lecture to a garden club in New Jersey – an ideal venue given its status as “The Garden State” – and encouraged the audience to get further along on the compost learning curve.

A 3-Step Guide to Composting in Your Backyard

To help nudge the group we created a simple quick-start guide to backyard composting. On the front, it provided a simple directions in three steps to help get momentum: 

  1. Choose a compost container style
  2. Collect materials
  3. Manage the compost (as much as you want)

Download the simple guide to backyard composting.

The response was fantastic: different conversations indicated shifts. For example, after the lecture a group of four women in line for lunch said, “We were just talking about where we’re going to put our bins at our homes. It has to be far enough away from the back door to fit into the landscape, but close enough so that we actually use it.” Another member of the audience emailed, “You’ve successfully nudged me to do more composting. I’m collecting leaves this weekend for my new bin.”

Indeed, leaves are the perfect training wheels for a novice composter: You put them into your bin and poof! Three- to six- months later you have lovely leaf litter: a fluffy, nutrient-rich mulch that breaks down into the soil beautifully.

The audience posed a few questions about what materials were appropriate for composting. Eggshells? Lobster shells? Banana peels? Avocado pits? In general, you want to add organic materials such peels and floral trimmings. At Harvest, we put together a quick video to illustrate:

At the end of the day, it’s your compost party: the composition of your decomposition is entirely up to you. Want more details? Check out this awesome composting guide.

*NOTE: A similar version of this story has been cross-posted on our sister site,

The 10-Minute Tomato Cage Holiday Tree

Imagine this: It’s early December. You want to do some decorating to brighten up the dark days but you don’t have a ton of time. You want “bright lights, low cost, low hassle” as your decorating mantra. Introducing the “10-Minute Tomato Cage Holiday Tree”.


  • EASY TO MAINTAIN: No watering required
  • EASY TO CLEAN: No shedding of pine needles
  • EASY TO MOVE: Very lightweight!
  • USE EVERYWHERE: Indoor/outdoor compatible
  • DRESS UP/DRESS DOWN: Add as many (or as few) additions as you see fit for your space.
  • GARDEN INSPIRATION DURING ALL SEASONS: In addition to using a tomato cage, which is typically at its peak in the summer, one variation we saw was to hang seed packets as “ornaments”!


Step 1: Turn a tomato cage (you probably have some in your garage) upside down.

Step 2: Wrap some lights around said tomato cage.

Step 3: Add a bow at the top to bring the “legs” of the tomato cage together.

Step 4: Add any additional bells or whistles (or cards or garland) to make it fit your space and style!

Upside down tomato cages



Inspiration from New England Design and Construction:

Inspiration from Allen Smith, who makes a design that includes home-made birdseed ornaments (pine cones smeared with peanut butter, then dipped in bird seed):


Inspiration from Pinterest, with lots of variation on a Christmas Tomato Cage board including a “tree” used to hold cards.

And if you’re sick of tomato cages for actually growing tomatoes, check out these awesome Tomato Trellis and Cage Ideas from Morning Chores.