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Big pile of fermented chopped leaves...now what?

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Hi, all

I have a huge pile of composted chopped leaves that my lawn guys gave me last fall. Since then I have turned them a few times and added some 10-10-10 a couple of times too. I have not added any manure, 'greens' or kitchen scraps and all that. They are nice and brown and yummy looking to me.

Now I'm wondering what I should add 'mineral-nutrient wise' to use it in rejuvenating my perennial beds...?

The beds were originally made about 7 years ago with layers of mushroom compost, leaves, top soil, and some fertilizer so they are fairly decent but the soil seems compacted. And it is probably somewhat depleted since I cram a lot of plants into our garden all thru the growing season from March to October.

I want to use this new material when I plant or transplant in the garden and to place generous shovel fulls around, say, the peonies, lilies, etc. That is, I don't want to dig out all the plants and re-work the soil and then replant all of them~~if that makes a difference in what I add.

I have read about 'green sand', triple super phosphate, etc. etc., and now I'm a victim of TMI (too much information)!

Any thoughts?? thanks. t.


Lake Charles, LA

Go to starbucks and get some coffee grounds, mix with those leaves and u will have some super compost.

Spokane, WA(Zone 5a)

I won't add much to the TMI situation. I agree with 649 with the coffee grounds and I would also use some alfalfa pellets from the feed store. I wish I were in your shoes with all of those chopped leaves. The earth, soil, and worms love that stuff. I've used up all of my compost and desire more.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

As long as the 10-10-10 supplied enoguh Nitrogen that they really did compost, you're good to go. If they didn't get enough N, stirring lots INTO a bed might deplete the soil of needed N, while they finish composting.

I don;t know: if you lay C-rich compost just ON TOP of a bed, can it cause N deficiet? I'm guessing not.

Everyone says that laying mulch or compost on top of soil still enriches the soil over time, as the compost dissolves and filters down into soil. And maybe worms come up, eat it, tunnel down and excrete it.

I'm sure everyone must be right - but I feel better turning some compost under so that it reaches my crummy, heavy, no-structure, anearobic clay, even a foot or two down, right away.

You could use a fork or sharpshooter spade or even weeding tools to turn some compost under between perennials, if they are spaced far enough apart.

But, if you are patient, or your soil started much better than mine did, "top dressing and waiting" is very widely reccomended, and certainly must be the least strenuous plan.

Corey

Provo, UT(Zone 5a)

i also agree with adding coffee grounds.. over the winter i collect ALOT of coffee grounds (50 gal) i spread them over my
garden..and the worm population is huge.. they love them..
i collect leaves in the fall.. have them mowed down.. some go into the vegy garden.. and this yr i have a big pile of shredded
leaves (100 bags) that i will use in my compost.. leaves,straw,rabbit manure,grass clippings.. i add some rock phosphate to
stabilize the nitrogen.. thats it..
i think an easy use of your leaves would be as cory and rick suggest..
im sure whatever plants u put in that soil will be happy campers !!!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I'm with Rick and Corey, two smart guys ...lol Use as is on top and around. That won't suck N out of the soil. If you see signs of low N - yellowing and dropping older leaves, (I just learned too that dead holes in my peach leaves are a sign of low N) then sprinkle with an N amendment like alfalfa. Coffee ground at any time added are good, but not a strong N like blood meal or alfalfa or chcken manure etc among other things.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Rick says he has all the good ideas, and I do is type them. Frankly, I think he just copies what other people say, but he claims to thinjk about it.

* * * * * I do so think about it!

Says you ... I thought I heard you snoring.

* * * * * * * FFFPPT.

Oh, eloquent rejoinder! Or were you snoring again? Go back to sleep!

Corey

(There's only one of us, unless you count multiple personalities.)
(* * * * * * * * Says YOU, Mr. Smarty Pants)
(Oh, PLEASE, you're just so immature sometimes!)
(* * * * * * * * "The pot calls the kettle black", Na Na Nye Naah Naah!)

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

LOL !

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Great! Then I'm pretty much good to go. Thanks for the advice.

I originally made these beds using the (very easy) Lasagne Method and they have been fabulous to grow my gardens in for the past five or six years but they could use this generous dose of amendment now. Although I am not especially fond of digging deeply in the beds for a number of reasons I might be able to do so if necessary! And, RickCory, I have been looking at your threads about your challenges in building your gardens and I wish you a lot of luck in developing your soil.

The alfalfa pellets may be a caution for me 'cause I don't want to attract any more rabbits, rodents or other animals into the yard. Maybe I can get our Starbucks or Carribou Coffee to share some of their grounds, though.

Interesting about the possible deficiency of N in the leaf amendment causing issues. I'll watch for that.

Thanks so much. t.

p.s. I enjoy all the posts on this forum. Lots of good advice here!


Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

You can soak the alfalfa in water- one cup per five gal bucket, and just drench with that.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Eventually I'll budget for multiple cubic yards of compost and hugely improve my soil. Even my best soil is still "very heavy" and that may be contributing to how slow things are this spring ... that, and the cold weather.

Corey

Virginia Beach, VA

I am new to this forum but been com posting for over 30 years. DH files all grass clipping as well as mulched leaves and dumps everything behind our big storage shed . I wet it ocasionally and sometimes cover with tarp to speed up the process if i need mulch. We have a huge pile and even shares it to neighbors who does not compost

i use it in the garden bought veggie and flowers and I only add 10-10 10 as a side dress to my plants. In fact I used 2 x 20 lb bags this spring. I do lasagna gardening.

My plants are healthy.-- Belle

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)


Thanks, Belle, for the run down. Sounds like you make some good stuff! When you get some time, please post some pics of your bountiful garden! I would love to see it.

Since my original post I have been making various concoctions with my leaf mould including using it plain as a top mulch instead of buying the expensive stuff at the garden center, adding some composted manure and making new and refreshing old beds for more plantings, and also adding some 'Garden Magic' (whatever that is), and putting it around my daylilies and other perennials. So far so good. The yard does smell (stink) a little, but thankfully my neighbors are on summer vacation somewhere for the time being.

(I do not add grass clippings and garden trimmings and kitchen scraps to our leaf pile for a variety of reasons that I won't go in to here. Maybe some day I will be able to do that.)

I have given up on adding certain particular nutrients and minerals (from the garden center) to the leaf mould now and I guess I will see how it settles in and maybe do soil tests next spring.

I have avoided doing soil tests because they are expensive to have a lab do it (our Extension doesn't do them anymore). And because everyone of my beds has a different soil composition and I would have to do about five or six tests to get any decent reliable info. I did buy some soil test sets at home depot but they didn't really tell me anything.

Have a nice weekend everyone! t.

Virginia Beach, VA

I had posted our garden and yard several times but if you search my posting you will find them. I just do not know how to send links. i am not a computer savvy. Belle

Virginia Beach, VA

Tabasco ,
I will look for the thread and will bump it. It is on Beginners landscaping forum and some on hosta forum-- Belle


i tried looking for pictures but no luck. Will take pictures soon and will post at beginners landscaping or beginners flowers. Belle

This message was edited Jun 10, 2011 6:53 PM

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)


Hi, Belle,

I looked on the threads you started (on your profile page) and found your Lasagna Garden thread with lots of pics of your yard and garden.

You certainly do have lots of long lasagna beds loaded with beautiful plants.

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1108965/

Thanks for posting them! t.

Virginia Beach, VA

I am glad you found them. i am not a computer savvy!! LOL!! I acquired more plants thois year and hope to post some more pictures.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Belle, Just click on your name in green on the left of your last post above and the page that comes up has an entry for 'threads you started'. Then click on that and scan down the page for the thread you want and click on it and it will come up.

Of course you could do a boulian 'Google Search' to find your thread too. I like to use Google to find stuff on Dave's 'cause I think it's faster than using the DG search...(but maybe they've improved the DG search in recent months...I'm not up to date here...)

Virginia Beach, VA

Tabasco,
I bump my thread on garden design. Pictures from last year.HAd not had time to take pix this year. My ebay store is keeping me busy. Belle

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