I have quite a bit of both finished compost and shredded leaves. The compost is homemade from our own hot piles, from garden trimmings, weeds, kitchen scraps, plus shredded leaves. The shredded leaves are our own tree leaves, mostly oak, which we shredded last fall [with our Troy chipper/shredder]. In the past, I've used my finished compost at planting time, and used the shredded leaves as mulch. Now I am wondering if I might mulch with 2 or 3 inches of compost, AND then top that off with another 2 or 3 inches of shredded leaves.
EllaTiarella - personally, I wouldn't put them on that deep. A one to two inch layer is best. If you put a deeper layer, the stems of your plants will tend to rot.
Regarding your Troy chipper/shredder -- do you like it? We have two piles of small twigs, plus access to more in the woods behind our house. I would like to purchase a chipper, but am not sure what to look for.
I love the Troy chipper-shredder very much. I was terribly excited when we bought it; it was a real indulgence for us. However, I caution you that we bought it in the 1990s before the company was acquired by MDT. I was told MDT immediately cheapened the Troy product line, so I am not sure the Troy-Bilt quality is the same as it once was. Ours is 5.5 HP, if I remember correctly. I can just barely wheel it out of the garage, it's that heavy. It has a chipper on the side which can handle branches up to about 2", but we don't use it much for that. Branches 3/4" or smaller can just go into the hopper at the top if they are dry and breakable.
We live on a lot in a suburb, size 0.42 acres. But when we moved here in 1991, we had quite a few mature trees on our lot, and upwind on neighbor's lots, so we had tons of leaves, and we shredded all of them. [We have lost a considerable portion of our trees due to wind damage and so on.] [If you ever buy property that has mature trees, don't assume they are healthy. Many of ours were not, it turned out.] One of the first things I did the year we acquired the shredder was put a 6-inch layer of leaves all over the poor-quality grass in a big shady area, which killed the grass and thus created a space for a shade garden. I've done that a couple more times thru the years: convert grass to garden via piling 6" or more of shredded leaves in the fall. Other than that, we use the shredded leaves as mulch, and as the "brown layers" in the compost piles.
Tomatoes? Not any more, DH is giving up. I won't let him put tomatoes in the sunniest part of the yard, which is my sunny-flower-garden area, fairly visible from house & patio. [It became sunny after death of a tree a few yrs ago.] The one spot in a far back corner where he grew tomatoes for a few years is semi-shady and also has a juglone problem, plus it is a fair distance to lug watering cans. He informed me this spring that he is not doing tomatoes "ever again".
EllaTiarella - thank you for the information regarding the Troy shredder.
When we lived in South Florida we had a big 8 h.p. "horse" Troy rototiller and loved it. We now own a Troy Bilt mower and it does an amazing job of shredding leaves and small sticks.
I did not know the Company had changed hands - perhaps this answers a dilema I had when purchasing a Troy Bilt weed eater. We could not get it to start - called the Company, followed their directions but it still would not start. Asked our neighbor for help who was employed as a Landscaper at the time, and he couldn't start it. So we returned it and exchanged it for another one. That one would not start either, so we gave up.
I'll check with Lowe's to see if they carry the wood chipper - if I buy one from them and it doesn't work, I know they will take it back.