The toughest materials to compost are by far; palm fronds and strappy foliage plants. Their innate fabric always proves to be tougher than the bacteria and bugs that do the decomposing. And months later, when everything else has become unrecognisable, palm fronds and grass foliage remnants look like they’ve only just hit the compost heap.
Even trying to mulch them through a chipper shredder proves equally futile. The strands that make palm fronds up will usually wrap around the blade forcing the motor to seize and making you spend hours trying to unravel it again. Strappy foliage from plants such as cordylines, agapanthus and other grasses can be even worse and often most gardeners will resort to just binning the waste.
However, there is a way to compost this seemingly indestructible garden refuse. The first method is to let it dry out first. This may take some time but the palm fronds and strappy foliage need to be left until they are dry and brittle. Once this has been achieved then shredding them is a cinch – they will begin to breakdown like any other organic material after this point.
The second option is to chop the palm fronds by hand and then place in a container, covering them with compost tea. This will break the items down individually and within a few weeks. From there, they can be transferred back into the compost heap where they will continue their decomposition in a similar time frame to the rest of the materials.
A third option is to dig a hole large enough to hold the palm fronds (cutting them in half or thirds prior is a help) and then covering with a non-composted manure – chicken or cow are best. Replace the soil over these and they shall break down within a few months.
So, as you can see, composting palm fronds and strappy foliage plants isn’t impossible but it does require a little more effort.