Large quantities of leavesgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I have gathered large amounts of leaves that I would like to use on my garden. I have done this in the past but the leaves don't break down quickly. I have tried using a Troy-Built chipper grinder but that is a joke. It would take me months and lots of gas to grind these leaves. Anyone have any suggestions on using these leaves?
-- Emil in TN (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 19, 2002
Mix them with a more solid material and regrind.
-- mitch hearn (email@example.com), February 19, 2002.
Run over them with your mower. Even better if you have one with a bag attachment. Works for us!
-- Bren (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 19, 2002.
Might look at these composting ideas, Oregon State U. Composting, http://eesc.orst.edu/agcomwebfile/garden/Composting/ Canadian Composting Recipe, http://www.ns.ec.gc.ca/udo/paydirt.html
-- BC (email@example.com), February 19, 2002.
Over the years we hauled thousands of bags of leaves home from town every time we went in on the first of the week before the garbage man picked them up. Found rather quickly we could not put them in piles and turn them over by hand to make compost. Since we have raised beds we just put them in the walkways and walked on them. Keeps weeds out of the walks and after three or four years till them up shovel the loose dry compost up on the beds and put down more leaves in the walkways. We have 40 beds in the veg garden and 101 in the herb garden. some times you the walks are level full with the beds but that soon settles down. We have never had too much leaves, straw,pine straw shavings, sawdust, newspapers (by the way put the newspapers down in the walkways first then your leaves that way your garden will not look like a garbage dump)most any thing. We could not handle so big a garden if not for the raised beds and mulch. The wife is now working on a web site and will let you know the address when she gets it finished. We love leaves. Another of our hobbies usues old christmas trees we brought 300 cut trees home after Christmas and cut all the limbs off, We use the trunks in our crafts, and ran the limbs through the chipper got 7 heaping pickup truck loads of mulch and that went into the walkways in her herb garden. Don't waste anything. David and JUdy
-- David in North Al.. (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 19, 2002.
The type of leaves may affect how this works but I've always simply spread them on the garden as mulch, the deeper the better. You can call it "sheet composting" if you like. If it's going to be a month or so before you plant you can spread them and then till them in. Works wonderfully for me.
Compost piles are too much fork work for me to get useful quantities of finished product. If I can't process it through my animals first it goes straight on where I want mulch at. If it's ugly I'll hide it under a layer of leaves and pine straw.
-- Alan (email@example.com), February 19, 2002.
For the past few years I have been using leaves in my garden and I have noticed that they don't decompose until the soil gets up past 65- 70 degrees. I've started waiting until then before I till mine in. Once they are tilled in it doesn't take but a few days and they are almost fully decomposed.
-- r.h. in okla. (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 19, 2002.
Leaves will also deplete the soil of nitrogen as they decompose (like straw and sawdust)...just keep in mind to add more nitrogen when you add leaves to feed the microbes the nitrogen they need to eat up the leaves and give you all of that nice humus.
-- Oscar H. Will III (email@example.com), February 19, 2002.
Emil: This may not be specifically helpful to your situation but I've composted an estimated 150 yards of leaves in the last three years. I simply pile them up, being careful to ad bloodmeal for nitrogen, bonemeal for phosphorus, and some wood ashes for potassium. They sit in a pile over winter and is finished enuf in the spring to spread and plant in.
Mitches idea was good and so was the suggestion to add nitrogen. even if you till in the leaves. Too much nitrogen is not good but by adding the leaves it gives the nitrogen something to work on so its less likely to burn plants.
-- john (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 19, 2002.
My parents have several large maple trees and save me all the leaves each year. I use them in my hen house, on the floor to absorb droppings. It is really great to put in a new bag several times over the winter; makes the whole place smell fresh!! By spring it is all a real fine crumble that has been well turned by the hens, ususally there is no wet matted area. Depending on what I am planting I either just till it in or pile it up for a year.
-- Bee White (email@example.com), February 20, 2002.
We also run over them with our mower after we have spread them out over the garden. Really works well and they are ready by spring. We used to pile them in the garden and spread them around but not mow them. They just froze in clumps and in the spring the ground under them was cold and wet. So now we mow them in the fall, disked them in with the tractor or you could till them in. Come spring you are ready to plant.
-- Nancy (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 20, 2002.
I load them on the garden about 4" thick and go over them a couple times with a bushog. Then plwow them in and let the critters in the ground take care of them.
-- Paul (email@example.com), February 20, 2002.
Emil, I sort of do what Bee White does, but with a twist. I rake up my leaves in the fall and take donations. These are spread in my garden along with soiled bedding from my barn (from whence comes the nitrogen) and then I let the chickens in. They grind it up and till it in. By spring it's gorgeous soil that the earthworms adore. By the way, my garden is fenced so the chickens can only come in when invited.
-- Sheryl in ME (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 20, 2002.
Something missing in Emil's question. What type of leaves? There are some trees, such as red maples and their hybrid kin, that drop a flat leaf which could probably sit for years and merely become just more and more compacted. Silver maples, in turn, curl soon after drying and will break down a lot quicker since air and moisture can get into the pile. Most of the ash family leaves will also curl and break down. I get all the leaves and then some from the neighborhood and only turn down the tiny honey locust leaves unless I have a lot of silver maple or ash leaves to mix with them. I've gone with the big pile method, lawn mower, chipper/shredder, and Leaftron. Lawn mower is sometimes the messiest but it is by far the quickest method. Bagging mower is the cleanest but then you are emptying the bag every 5 minutes. Best that I have found is to set up a backstop and dump bags of leaves. Run over them with a mower with a real sharp blade. After a dozen or so bags, rake everything back into a row and go over them again. Second pass should have them reduced to bits small enough for quick composting or mulching.
Save the trees!
-- Martin Longseth (email@example.com), February 21, 2002.