The village where I live makes no arrangements for yard waste. There is no pick-up day, no drop-off location, and the trash collectors refuse to take it if they can see what it is (i.e., if one puts it out in paper yard waste sacks as opposed to disguising it in black garbage bags).
Last fall, I left most (okay--all, LOL!) of the fallen leaves on the garden beds and raked them off in spring. I constructed a rudimentary composter by making a 3-foot circle with some 4-foot tall field fence out behind my garage, and these partially broken-down leaves became the first layer. Since then, I have added grass clippings, small brush clippings, and lots of weeds and ivy (someone before me r-e-a-l-l-y loved ivy). I'll probably be adding lots more bushy stuff now that I've got a new hedge trimmer.
I plan to turn the compost occasionally with a pitchfork. Other than that, I've done nothing. Since the pile is completely open and exposed, I don't add any foodstuffs (vegetable peels, etc.), since I'm concerned that would draw animals and flies.
Is there more I should do to hasten the breakdown of the yard waste I put in the pile? About how long should I expect to wait before I can remove compost and put it on my flower beds? Other tips?
Thanks in advance! Jo Ann