fall is here and its time to start driving around collecting bagged leaves for digging into
the soil..and save for next yrs composting..
who else has been picking up or mowing down leaves for garden use??
i have just over 50 bags now.. i want to get around 300..
i get help from neighbour boys mowing them down.. i have them spade in almost
1/2 the leaves into vegy garden.. the rest i save for next yr composting..
i also have been leaving some out..mixing with rabbit manure..and let them break down..
then use in potted up plants.. plants sure love it..
Well my friend sounds like you have been busy. I just finished off clearing and tilling my garden and every year I have the same thought: Go get a hand mower with a bag and cruse the older sections of town looking for a yard full of leaves ready to be harvested. But no sooner do I finish my harvest clean up and Mother N comes along and dumps a foot of snow.
I'm envious of you now pal and I have to admit 100 bags of leaves ready to be tilled into my hungry garden sounds like a fantastic idea. Although leaves do take some time to break down, shredding and adding some nitrogen based material speeds thing up for next season. I found that multiple tilings of the horse biscuits will have them ready by spring if you fall apply them, and I'm sure the same would be true of shredded leaves. I know a lot of people disagree with me on the number of times to till a garden, but I'm sticking with the plus side, rather than the 'no till' side
Having found quite a few worms this harvest season in my garden for the very first time I am excited about incorporating some type of material like shredded leaves if the opportunity arises. I'm making a note on my 2013 garden calender to either purchase a mower or contact some yard services and offer to purchase some bagged leaves. We have a place at the transfer station in town which is used for dumping leaves grass and this sort of thing, however they don't let people take this material. Probably for the best since they mix grass clippings in with the leaves and you don't need grass clipping from treated lawns mixed into your organic garden...right Dave! Besides my neighbor used grass clippings as a mulch and guess what he has growing in his garden!!!
hey back at ya morgan !! i cant believe thanksgiving is around the corner..
weve had a really nice fall..warmish..many 70F days.. gas bill will be small for nov..yea... LOL
this morning though..its raining pretty good..and i guess temps are to drop..so we could easily get snow..
clouds are covering mts..so cant see whats going on up there..
yea.. several yrs ago ..i kicked myself for not gathering up as many leaves as i could..so.. since i have
gotten around 300 bags each fall..and by june.. the shredded remains are almost all gone..
i have a good honda mower..but i checked the online classifieds..and bought a good troy bilt mulching mower..with bag..
it was only $60 and works good..have to do a few manual adjustments to choke..but for $60 thats ok by me..:)
and the mulching mower does a better job..i get a real fine shred to the leaves..
great news on the worms in your garden there.i use to go around in spring..with a bucket..and pick up worms in the
street gutters..lol..im sure people thought i was nuts..:) i buried them in my gardens though..
lets hope we get some moisture this winter..
Troy built is a pretty good brand of mulcher, wish I had invested in one of those instead of the electric one I purchased several years ago which binds up no mater water I place in it. Didn't know they made a mulching mower with bag Dave. I presume you bought yours used. Can't imagine a troy mulching mower for less than several hundred. I will check that one out.
The snow from the north which hit us on Thursday morning hasn't let up yet. You should be getting some effect for it as well by now. I've got a feeling this one will take a while to melt down even if it warms back up above freezing. Sub zero tonight! But the flip side is it's good for the garden, berries, and fruit trees. I was thinking that spreading a layer of shredded leaves over the garden just prior to a snow storm would improve their breakdown and benefit the worm population as well. I can't believe how many worms we saw this season, and I'm talking four different kinds. Red wigglers which I place in the holes dug for tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and pumpkin, as well as two different kinds of night crawlers; the Canadians left over from fishing, and some kind of pinkish grey ones with more pink than grey on theirs rings. The native garden worms which I collected from my neighbors are nearly twice as big as when the kids collected them after a rain and brought them over like you were mentioning. I gave them a small stipend each time they would bring me a worm for my garden and apparently it has paid off.
I'm trying to remember which tree leaf is not considered healthy for garden mulching. Does anyone recall? I'm pretty sure it's not a common one around here.
Might be some concern about using walnut leaves. I don't know where the jury stands on that.
I've been so busy I've forgotten to start watching for leaf bags. I have one neighbor who shreds and gave me the OK to take his. I am committed to keeping every leaf from my yard this year. If someone else shreds- awesome to have and use as mulch!
We'll have leaves falling until Thanksgiving and more. People put leaf bags out thru January because the leaves blow and get stuck under hedges etc. Have I told the story about dragging home some leaf bags during the SuperBowl? Thought I was being sneaky until I saw the dirt streaks all the way down the road to my house, and the little clumps of leaves started coming out as the bag got torn by the street.
I agree that when snow covers the leaves, mushes them down and really moistens them, that seems to speed things up lots. We don't have reliable snowfall here.
Oh ya 'sally the leaf pilchard', it was walnut leaves. "Leaf Bag"...Is there a special type of bag you use for collecting leaves. I figured any 45-55 gal black plastic trash bag would work. I had some really nice heavy ones I picked up at some garage sale once which come in handy for lots of garden jobs. I even use three per raised bed to warm the soil before planting out. These bags would work great for dragging off your neighbor's leaves sally. Besides who would be looking out their windows on Superbowl Sunday! You could steel their car and they probably wouldn't notice it until they sobered up and started to work the next morning. I'll have to remember that trick.
The interesting thing about our snow is that it is like a fine powder when it reaches the center of the valley. I live pretty much dead center and can push broom a foot of our snow off the deck. The city of Helena is actually adjacent to the mountains and gets more of the snow which is typically wetter as well. The rainfall in two is also more than twice what we get here in the valley. It is like two separate climates. The mountains totally surround us and the center of the valley gets robbed of a lot of the moisture. Wind gusts here in the center are often triple what they get in town. Growing anything here is a challenge and this idea of collecting leaves as a mulch is going to be #1 on my TODO list for this next season.
i also avoid using walnut tree leaves..ive read some on them.and i guess these debate on "are they ok
to use or not" plenty of other tree leaves to be had..
ya.morgan..we got a really wet snow today.. really sloppy wet.. im sure it will freeze tonite..will make for
fun driving in the morning..LOL
takes the 1st good snow storm to get people to slow down around here.. nothing like seeing someones car
sliding down a hill ..sliding sideways.. thats when i take side streets.. lol
hope snow lets up though..i only have 50+ bags of leaves so far.. sigh..
stay warm up there morgan !!!!!!!!!!!!
sally if thoes bagged leaves are already shredded, have you ever considered outdoor vermicomposting? I got started vermicomposting with worms from a neighbors leaf pile back in college, but his American Elm trees in the front of his house must have been 60 years old and he had a huge bin made with chicken wire to place them in. The red wigglers I have today are off springs of the worms taken from his bin. I used the worms for other purposes, but he had a nice big garden in which he used these leaves. I really didn't pay much attention to his gardening methods at the time...should have.
Sally - yes I do.
They grow so easily here and multiply every year.
Would love to do a trade for leaves.
I have an abundance of pines, so my compost pile is decomposed needles
and llama manure. Very rich additive to my perennial garden.
My pile currently is 20 feet long by 8 feet wide and 4 feet+ high.
This past spring, I moved the pile from one side of property to another
to install a steel 20' x 12' greenhouse for starting seeds and extending
our short growing season. So, by moving the pile, the compost is turned and
rich nutrients are now on the top for top dressing the garden.
Sally, I have never done a leaf compost pile since we don't have any leaves close by to compost. However, I have a compost bin under my deck which receives a variety of things in the fall like some horse manure, cow manure, recycled raised bed material as well as recycled potted plant material, and lots of harvest scraps. The principals of composting are pretty much the same: keep it moist and turn it when you can. I have outdoor hot and cold water faucets adjacent to this bin so I can add warm water throughout the winter months. The top and sides of the bin material does freeze solid, but on a sunny day I lift the board on top and water the top straw layer with hot water until I can break through the frozen zone. Then I can turn the inner core and water it with warm water. By spring I have about 60 cubic feet of compost ready for potting up mixes. Leaves might break down faster, especially in your milder climate if you insert some nitrogen fertilizer to the pile, water and turn it occasionally.
my leaf collecting has come to a halt ..sigh..we have a foot
of snow on the ground..sigh..
its "suppose" to be back in the high 50sF next week..so the snow will be gone..
but the leaves will be sloppy wet.. grrr..LOL
we had alot of branches come down with this wet snow.. and alot of trees had
leaves still hanging on..so added to the weight..
Would adding alfalfa pellets (17%) help the leaf breakdown?
I've been layering leaves, table scraps, coffee grinds, shredder paper, and veggie clippings. I have three 35 gallon Brute Trashcans that I drilled holes all over last spring, lined up in a row. One can remains empty. I just pitchfork the contents from one can to the next and water down each layer of the (mostly) leaf decomp. This weekend I added two cups of alfalfa to each layer as I moved the piles.
great idea gymgirl..
i started using alfalfa pellets this yr..and everything..including the lawn ..loved it..
ive read about alfalfa meal alot..but wouldnt buy any because of the price for what volume you get..
then chatting with a rose enthusiast..she recommended going to a feed store and just buying their
alfalfa pellets..rabbit food.. what a great idea.. !!!
i even make a tea out of it..for plant use..LOL... i used 3 - 40 gal plastic garbage cans.. 1 with the alfalfa tea,
the other 2 with my manure tea..
again.. great idea gymgirl !!!!
If you are planning on using alfalfa to vermicompost I have heard that the pellets are the way to go. However, I remember a comment by a commercial worm grower that milled alfalfa comes either with or without oil additive and you want to stay away the one with oil added. This comment was made 50 years ago, so I don't know what they are marketing these days, but best to ask if you go the powder root.I failed again last season to make my vermicompost tea. Slap me up the side of the head Dave. Maybe you can remind me to get it together next spring.
I have a unique aerator which would work nicely in a 40 gallon barrel, but I need something larger than an aquarium pump and that's what keeps hanging me up on the idea. If you are using alfalfa pellets Dave, do you go the extra few days to encourage the growth of higher organisms like paramecium and amoebas? I can't remember what the real benefit is from these organisms, but I recall some people here doing this by adding straw or alfalfa to their tea mixes.
My Tea Formula: Vermicompost, cow or horse manure, alfalfa pellets, and some unsulfured molasses. Am I forgetting anything???
morgan ..that sounds like a good mix to me..
i cant remember when i started to make manure teas for the plants..i know my mom
did.. its a great soil inoculant..good plant friendly fertilizer..
i make a mix of mine.. i use equal parts tea,fish emulsion..and i add water soluable fertilizer..depending
on what im fertilizing..and soluable kelp..
Opa, I presume you plan on mixing the leaves with the rabbit manure, burning you pile and watering frequently helps to break these two down into an earthy like material which is save to plant. Takes about a year here, probably less time in your part of the country. I do something similar with horse manure and the end product is a rich, fine loamy looking material which is easy to use especially in potting mixes.
I think the only way I would use leaves directly is as a mulch. What's your take on this Dave?
i cant get enough leaves..or rabbit manure..LOL..sounds oddd..huh..
except to us gardeners..:)
i use part of my leaves..i mow down 1st..just spaded into the vegy and flower
gardens.. i cover with finished compost.. im thinking i loose nitrogen the next yr from the leaves/composting ..but it hasnt had any detrimental affect..
the bulk of my leaves get piled up..and the following summer i mix the semi rotted
leaves into my summer compost..
with rabbit manure..which is a great manure..best way to use in compost so far
is to make a slurry in buckets..then add to the compost.. the rabbit manure pellets
get a start at breaking down..and mix better with my compost..
were getting alot of rain down here morgan...??? how bout u????
My Kind Neighbor saw me chomping leaves-pine needles-grass today with my riding mower and he jokingly offered to "let me" clean up his yard too. BAM, I was there.
However, when Kind Neighbor mentioned this to Evil Neighbor, she hurried out and BURNED her leaf piles. Said she didn't have TIME to mess with it. Huh? TIME? So she polluted the air instead of letting me have them. Sheesh, it's not like I ran over her dog or anything. Good grief.
Anyway, tally for the day -- leaves from 27ea 70yo oak & maple trees, plus pine needles and grass clippings are now chomped with the mower multiple multiple times until they are 1" or smaller pieces and then hauled out of sight to my multiple and varied compost bins.
I am lusting after one of those vacuum things for the mower with the huge honkin' trailer that pulls behind. Can't justify a grand or two, but am drooling nonetheless.
>> I have a unique aerator which would work nicely in a 40 gallon barrel,
Can the air pump be underwater, or does it need to be waterproof? A used vacuumn cleaner from Goodwill with an exhaust port might push enough pressure. Assuredly plenty of volume! Maybe even a high-powered hair dryer could be duct-taped to a hose. It might not stand up to continuous operation, but a timer with a 10-20% duty cycle would keep it cool enough.
I found an appliance recycling store. They accept old and broken appliances, cannibolize for parts, fix and clean them up, then sell them cheap. They might have left-over blowers for clothes-driers and forced-air heating systems. Or Habitat for Humanity.
(That's where I would look for a cheap light-duty irrigation pump. Washing machines and dishwashers have water pumps.)
If you don't get enough pressure to push air down 3-4 feet, you could prop the bubbler up at a depth where it CAN bubble. Mount it near one side so the rising column drives all the wateer in the barrel to circulate.
Your Evil Neighbor's sister lives right next door to me. She had some workmen cut down several healthy trees, and they generated a huge amount of sawdust. I asked them if they would leave it for me (my compost heap was closer to their pile of swadust than their truck was. They said "SURE". I went to work. Later, your Evil Neighbor's sister came out and made them carry all the sawdust all the way to their truck, just so I couldn't have it.
My neighbor makes of what a church-going lady she is. Too bad she never listened to anything that was said there!
Corey, timers I have. Resources for what you have described are scarce here in Helena. We are a capital of barely more than 30,000 people. Show me another capital with less than half a million in the states. Get the idea. The Ramco aerator is a pvc tube with three propellers inclosed in the tube; two propellers rotating in one direction; and the center in another direction. The high volume air from a used vacuum cleaner blower on a timer would probably work. The purpose of the propellers is to breakup the air into fine bubbles and thus recirculate the liquid and solids therein. I'm not great mechanically, but I'm pretty sure I could figure that one out. However, I may still purchase one of the more expensive aquarium pumps since I have two sizes of these Ramco units, and could operate several batches at a time, staggering them by a couple of days.
Religion is probably not a topic for discussion but I think we have all been there. I look at it this way...these neighbors need to be in church. God knows what they would be like if they weren't. My two cents worth!
is it winter?? sure doesnt feel like it.. LOL
omg..i just jinked it.. LOL
we were 64 F yesterday. almost 60 F today.. it is
leaves are few this yr.. ones ive gotten.. were earlier in fall..
the leaves are down..but either everyone is hiding them from me...
or they just threw them in garbage instead of bagging up..
we got a real wet snow couple weeks ago..maybe thats why..
still driving around after work seeking leaves out..:)
im thinking of starting lettuce in cold frame when i get a free couple
My brand new Toro Ultra 3-in-One leaf blower/vacuum/shredder is waiting for me in the mailroom...
I have a whole street full of elderly neighbors who would salivate at the prospect of me raking up their leaves, shredding them right into my garbage-can-on-wheels, then heading back to my three Rubbermaid garbage cans with holes all over them.
I can keep the shredded leaves moist, keep the bins turned, and, by next spring, it should be nicely broken down into something useable.
My question is this: How do I then use this leaf decomp in my raised veggie beds (RBs), and, how much leaf decomp is too much for a small veggie garden? My current RBs are filled with a blend of garden soil, compost, and pine bark fines (for good drainage and aeration, and to maintain some of the bulk and avoid too much shrinkage, too soon...).
I have at least one garbage can of leaf decomp and veggie scraps almost ready to go now, but everything's already planted and growing in the RBs, so do I just spread this compost on top of the beds as a mulch? I've never mulched anything before, only because I don't know much about mulching, and I'm trying to learn.
So. My newest education is about:
► mulching (how, when, & on what), and
►leaf mould (how to use, how much to use, when and where to add).
i lived in houston a million yrs ago..north where your at..i was in spring..
i loved how anything i put in the soil..grew.. :)
i use alot of leaves every yr..my vegy garden is 80ft X 40ft.. to that i have added
yearly at least 100 shredded bags of leaves..plus manure..
i have neighbour boys spade it under for me now.. its alot of work..takes a couple
days.. this is in nov..by late spring..you can see some leaves..but by mid summer
they have disinigrated into the soil..
you have heavy clay soil there.. so anything to lighten it up..and help with drainage
is good.. bark fines are great..and abundant and cheap down there !! :)
i'll put in my thinking..as long as you have good drainage.. i think 20% of soil volume as leaf mulch would be ok..??? what do ya all think????
perlite is good to help in drainage..
good luck to ya linda!!!!
It's incredible how we so often overlook the obvious. We have wood chip fines for the taking about 40 minutes away. I have used these in the raised beds to grow various things like broccoli, butter crunch and butter head lettuce, and they did great. The remaining soil has been excellent mixed with composted cow manure for potting up as well. I had considered adding some peat moss to the potato rows next season, reading that potatoes like a more acidic soil. You comments Dave about tilling the leaves into the soil got me to thinking about different ways to use these wood chip fines in the garden as well.
I have used alfalfa straw to mulch tomatoes and other plants as well, removing the straw at the end of the season before tilling. Wood chip fines on the other hand could be tilled right back into the garden once the season is finished. Decomposing wood chips do take up nitrogen, however I tend to use quite a bit of cow manure which is pretty well aged..In the past I have used fresh horse manure and still do for French intensive gardening in the raised beds. Mixing the wood chip fines would be similar to the chopped up leaves and would also make a good mulch around the base of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and so on. In fact I may even mulch my new strawberry beds next spring with wood chip fines.
Just thinking out loud here, but I'm seeing all kinds of possibilities that never occurred to me before. Like where has my head been.
i have a couple co-workers that are as nuts as i am in gardening..
and in our garden talks ...i gleen so much from them.. things i could see as
benificial to my gardening..as soon as they said it.. :)
i use local compost the city makes..its mostly wood chips..they compost hot..
then separate it into various grades.. i got 6 yds last yr..and i think i'll probably get
5 yrds this winter..
i sware someone is getting into my gardens and stealing my soil!!!!! LOL
it got to 68 F here today...???? i thought it was almost december?????
I'l repeat my opinions here, but I think you know anything I'm likely to say.
>> How do I then use this leaf decomp in my raised veggie beds (RBs), and, how much leaf decomp is too much for a small veggie garden?
Is there any such thing as too much compost, when even lasagna gardening works? That is 100% compost and humus or peat.
I would say that with poor or clay soil, 50% soil and 50% compost turned under is not too rich. So even a 12-16" layer of compost turned deeply would be wonderful.
Or decide however deeply you want to turn the soil.
First loosen it that deep with a fork or spade.
Then lay on an equal depth of compost and turn lightly again.
Rake the surface with a cultivator to get unifom mixing near the surface.
>> but everything's already planted and growing in the RBs, so do I just spread this compost on top of the beds as a mulch?
Sure. It will keep decomposing and worms will suck it down as long as it stays moist. I would scratch it into the surface soil as much as is easy and safe, between plants, just to get the compost as near the soil as possible in all dimensions.
I would suggest mulching with some whole leaves on TOP of the humus/compost layer, so it does stay moist, and rain doesn't pack it down.
If turning vast amunts of compost under deeply takes too long or takes too much energy, laying it on top and letting it seep down gradually also works, just more slowly. Top dressing doesn't fix your drianage and aeration for months or years, whereas tilling it under gives you a huge improvement right away.
In the other directon, what would be the LEAST you can get away with? I think that any productive bed deserves 2-4" of compost per year - surely the soil life eats that much, and you don't want them getting hungry.
Probably I should develop and enforce the habit of c omposting heavily just before spring planting, plus any time I rotate from one crop to another, plus in the fall when I pull things out. As well as wishing for unlimited time and money and energy, I should wish for unlimited discipline. Might as well wish for an extra 100 square yards!
I don't know the upper limit on the depth of a top-layer of humus plus slow-decomposing mulch. Don't you haver to spread it apart or dig down through it to make a planting hole? Seedling roots need to go into somethying fine, not coarse mulch that drains until dry. Maybe you can plant the roots in almost-pure compost, I'm not sure. The "Lasagna" people say 'yes', if I understand them.
Then maybe you could lay down as much COARSE mulch as will not bury the leaves.
Wouldn't a thick layer of 100% leaves mat together, exclude air, and invite slugs? Maybe shredded-leaf mulch would work better as a top-dressing. Or shredded leaves mixed with big wood chips or bark chips.
Dave, composting hot with wood chip fines is probably a good way to put some heat in the soil during the spring. I've been thinking about this all night and I am convinced this can work. Anything which can give me an extra thirty days jump start in the spring would be fantastic. Figure I will need some organic fertilizer to assist in the breakdown process and replenish the nutrients taken up by the decomposting wood chips.
My home is on a corner lot here in town and I have a large easment area from the sidewalk to the street. Every Fall about a dozen neighbors and two or three lawn-care guys bring their leaves to me. I end up with a windrow of leaves ten feet wide, nearly 4 feet high and 60 feet long. I toss a little dirt or compost on them so the wind doesn't blow them all into the next county. Then I just let them sit all winter and Spring. Long about August I begin raking the leaves and most simply crumble apart. I run my lawn mower over the small amount that didn't crumble. I end up with a beautiful pile of shredded leaves about half the size of the original. I add goat manure and by mid-October I have a gorgeous pile of black gold compost. That huge pile of leaves eventually ends up on all my garden beds and then a funny thing happens...it all just disappears!
Might be overkill. but I inoculated my leaf bags with dirt and leafmold from a local forest.
We took the dog to a local wooded park. I always have a bag for aluminum cans. I figured, hey, can't hurt to make sure I have all kinds of good leaf fungus. So we scooped up some handfuls of good forest dirt. I put them in the leaf bags at home. I seriously doubt I could do any realistic analysis proving that it helped me, sadly. Couldn't hurt either though.
Indeed, it cannot hurt and, for me, it would just feel so good to have the forest dirt added. I have a couple of neighbors who use vacuum shredders and provide me with lots of beautiful shredded leaves. I get so excited when they put more out. What a gift!
lettuceman.. sounds like your leaf comost is great stuff !!
area i pile shredded leaves for next yrs compost/mulching..under
that pile there are so many worms.. i think sometimes i can hear them
singing as i uncover them..LOL :)
leaf compost is great stuff for sure..
I used my leaf vac/shredder for the first time yesterday. Mulched 1/2 my yard full of leaves down to one 40 gallon contractor bag. I flooded the bag and left the leaves soaking overnight. Will poke holes in the bags tomorrow.
Also, put an SOS out for the neighbors' leaves and now have bags appearing on my driveway.. Talk about curb service!
I save some under a tarp so they do not get wet through the winter, then use them to mulch along plantings such as cabbage, raspberries black berries to help hold water. I don't put them on much thicker than an inch or two. dampen them so they stay put. The rest I chop with the mowers and run thru the compost piles in the winter, with garden refuse, soil, grass clippings, a little straw, dirt and animal manures.
I turn them in the spring, and spread them the following fall. Some of the compost piles go near a south wall, where I have to grow tomatoes, melons etc since I am high desert. I pull that soil every year after I finish the growing season and replace it with new compost. That way I don't deplete the soil by growing the same thing in the same place every year. I have noticed if I grow tomatoes in the same place more than 2 or 3 years in a row, the skins get tough. So this seems to have fixed that problem too
Even my bad soil seems too precious to discard. I need it for topping leaf piles, filling holes...
I still have 6-8 big bags of leaves plus a 3 ft across bin. And all the leaves stuck under the shrubbery and all over the flower beds. I'd like to pull them all out when its time to mow the grass. That is not another month or two still..?
I stood up several leaf bags, poked holes at the bottom, worked a hole down the middle, and stuck one or two sprouted potatoes in each. We'll see...
I picked up and moved the Earth Machine bin today. Clouds of gnats, tons of worms, how lovely. Put the top half back along with more leaves and three buckets of kitchen waste, I was keeping that away from the voles until warmer weather, hoping that now it rots quickly, instead of being vole buffet all winter.
All I know is something eats my sweet potatoes and white potatos while they are still growing, so I thought, if I throw potato peels and vegetable scraps in my cold, unmanaged compost bin, and it sat refrigerated and fresh for couple months, that the same somethings would feast on it all winter, and make babies. so i put my scraps into a lidded bucket.
thinking voles would eat my veg scraps, not thinking voles bother finished compost or dry leaves or grass clippings.
.I have collected leaves all fall and winter. I shredded up the majority, used some in compost, some just to form leaf mold piles and others to absorb water down in my bog area. I also picked up several truckloads of dried grass clippings over the winter and mixed it in with some of the shredded leaves. Not sure you could call that a compost pile being it was nearly all browns, and no greens. I left the piles all uncovered so they would absorb the moisture and watered the piles every time they looked dry. Today I picked up another truckload of leaves and a truckload of Liriope cuttings. It is unusual to pick up Liriope cuttings, but some people trim it all the way back at this time of year so all the new growth will sprout out and not have that tattered winter look, but be fresh and green.
The best compost I have ever had came form a couple of bags of Liriope cuttings that I placed in the bottom of my cold frame. The earthworms attacked it and make the most wonderful compost ever. So today, I started a new compost pile right next to the dried grass clipping and shredded leaf pile. The idea was to put down a layer of Liriope cuttings, then rake the contents of the grass clipping and shredded leaf pile on top. I was surprised to find hundreds of small earthworms and many large ones had already invaded the pile. This was the most earthworms I had ever seen in one of my piles.
So not only did I create a new pile, I turned about half of the other pile when mixing the layers. The Liriope cuttings had just been cut this weekend so they were very fresh and were already smoking with heat. Looking forward to a super batch of compost.
The leaves are almost gone from around here for the year, so I may go back and get one more load after lunch. I spotted a large pile on the way home but my truck was already full
I collect leaves year round, mulch any and all things into my compost piles be it leftovers, scraps and even grease. Been using organic fertilizer for seven plus years, now I have 4-8 inch worms that eat it all for breakfast, then ask what's for lunch!!! Every fall and spring I have to continually add more organic matter to keep up with their demand...if not the dirt gets barren of humus, then hard and packed.
I turn chopped leaves, etc back into the beds, and usually lay down 8-10 yards of composted mulch in the spring. For your compost piles, regularly throw a pound or so of plain white sugar on them to feed the bacteria.
>> Every fall and spring I have to continually add more organic matter to keep up with their demand...if not the dirt gets barren of humus, then hard and packed.
I have the same problem: my soil reverts to clay when the OM is consumed. In my case, mostly by microbes since I don't have many worms. I also don't have a lot of compost of feedstuff for the compost.
I found that coarse sand and crushed rock and bark fines (grit-size, like 1/10 inch or 2-3 mm) "stretch out" the lightening effect of compost. Less compost goes a longer way, and the grit never breaks down. The bark lasts around 3 years for me. From digging up plants, it seems to me that rootlets and grit lean on each other to support the soil and maintain air voids.
Partly composted woody shreds would break down almost as slowly as bark shreds of the same thickness, but probably consume more N than bark.
This way, even when the compost is mostly consumed, the clay+grit+rootlet soil still has enough "loft" to stay aerobic .
But if I had as much organic matter available to feed my compost heap and my soil, I would do exactly what you do!
I've read that it is hard to maintain more than around 5% OM in any aerobic, warm soil. Feed more, they eat more. But your method of feeding every fall AN every spring keeps it as high as possible. Top-dressing with compost in the summer and mulching heavily with soft mulch in winter might push you closer to 10% than 5%!
I use the leaves from my large chinese elms to mulch my berry roots in the fall, then once spring arrives, i rake them off and into the compost pile they go, or are used for mulch around other things thru the summer. They are all shredded to some degree since I pick them up with the lawn mower/bagger.
when I add them to the compost pile, I generally layer them, leaves, green grass,straw, manure, dirt, leaves etc
Yeah, and my single most important gardening purchase was a good mulching lawn mower years ago. I plant my yard for summer magic, not year round, so first freeze or right before I am tearing and cutting everything down, then mulching it through the lawnmower. The yard looks pretty bare in winter.
Had a good Craftsman gas blower/vac that did a great job reducing the volume of leaves, especially mincing/chopping the barrels of acorns that drop in the fall. I have not replaced it yet. It had metal blades on the vacuum, every thing I've looked at recently that get's good operating reviews has one weakness - plastic blades. I'm not sure they would last long with the more than occasional errant wood chips from my left old mulch.
I have a Craftsman 6.5 HP Mulching rear bagging mower. It will aslo be in the description if it is a mulching type or not. You can usually tell the difference as the blade is not a straight blade, but has curves about 6 inches from the tip with additional sharp edges for the double cutting. I bought it about 7-8 years ago for about $300 +/-, and have not had a problem with it. Change out blades or sharpen old ones, change oil and clean air filter regularly. Has the gas priming and is very easy to start.
Love my Craftsman mulching lawn mower, love the one lever used to set the height of all four wheels at one time, and it will adjust up higher than most lawn mowers. However, it does not like gas with ethanol, the carb lasted just over a year. Sears suggested just filling the tank half full to make sure all the fuel would be used out of the tank every time, buying only a gallon of fuel everytime I bought fuel, and never to use fuel over two weeks old. My old Murry lawn mower does not seem to realize there is a problem with ethanol in gas.
Do you think that just replacing a blade with a different blade would give better mulching or chipping action ? My blade is just a simple straight, flat bar with a very slight twist.
My little electric putt-putt advertised itself as "mulching" but that means about as much as most advertising slogans. I use it to run over small, chopped juniper branches but it only reduces their size a little. Mostly it blows them around the driveway and I have to make a dozen passes while screening out the biggest chips for even more passes.
And I just learned that I have to shred waxy Rhododendron leaves. They seem to last forever in my compost heap,. and the glossy wax isn't even dimmed.
I've thought of setting the electric mower upside-down and positioning some kind of cone above it to hold the chips in until they shred. But I'm not eager to trip and be chipped myself.
I don't think model numbers would help much, they change them too often. Maybe we could all post the features we like and don't like in a mulching lawn mower.
1. High height adjustment-Like
2. Easy one lever hight adjustment-Like
3. Large fuel capacity-Like
4. Also able to use a rear mounted bag-Like (when cutting things with seeds already formed).
5.Easy to start-Like
6. Check and make sure the safety flap does not catch when backing up(I have had to rig mine to make it work)
7. Width-21 or 22 inch seems to be the only choices mostly-I like the 22 inch but it makes it a little heavier.
8.Weight-That might be important for some people
9. Performance-how well does a mower actually perform the cutting and mulching tasks.
to me it seems a mulching lawn mower does not cut the lawn as smooth as a regular mower, but I am not too picky about that, some people would be.
10.Warranty is the most important, ask about the coverage of fuel problems no matter what they tell you make sure you get it in writing.
11. One thing to is check to see who in your area will service the mower, do this ahead of time. My local repair shop does not work on Craftsman mowers, I have to send it off.
That is all I can think of off hand but I am sure others will have many more suggestions.
1. Best feature for me is - rear bagging since it makes it easier to mow along borders in either direction.
2. Gas primer and easy start feature. I have not had a problem with ethanol gas.
3. Aluminum housing - no rust...
4. Push mower - I don't like the self propelled mowers. They are heavier and you can't control the speed. More things are prone to breakage.
Craftsmen and Toro are both good brands - last a long time - not the cheapest, but anything good will be worth it in the long run.
As long as the blade is sharp, it cuts grass well. The sign of a dull blade is torn or shredded edges on the grass. A sharp blade will leave a clean cut. I have two blades - one for rough stuff like limbs or empty lots, etc. Swap out for the grass in my yard. Easy to do.
With oak leaves, I usually mulch the first time, then dump them and mulch again to get a finer chop to turn directly into the dirt w/out composting.
I need self propelled, if you have a level lawn you may not need it. I have a steep grade about 150 feet long in the back. Self-propelled is the way to go if you have that kind of yard. My Craftsman has no gas primer bulb, don't know if many of the newer lawn mowers even use that any more(also there are no carb. adjustments). My Craftsman is very easy to start, when it will start. If it does not start by the second pull usually it is not going to and it's back to the shop. Chuck likes to leave the bag on when he shreds leaves, I like to take the bag off. I make a huge pile of leaves set the mower on the highest setting and run over the pile two or three times, then I lower the setting to about three inches and run over them again about three more times. I shred far too many to fool with dumping the bag out every time it gets full. Also I think you get a much better shredding action because the leaves fall back down on the blades. That is the reason a discussion like this is important, to see there are different options, it's just according to how you personally will use your mower.
One other feature you might want to look at is a blade clutch, it allows you to stop the blade, yet leave the mower running. This is great if you need to move a hose, or anything out of the way without stopping the mower.
I have always liked a throttle speed control, my lawn mower does not have that, you crank it and the motor runs full throttle from then on. You can change the speed the mower progresses at, but not the motor speed.
Also, if you have rough uneven terrain to cut get a mower with large rear wheels. No need most of the time if you have a smooth lawn.
I couldn't find a "mulching mower" on Sear's web site, although some said they were "mulching ready" whatever that means. There were mulching blades available separately.
When I mulch leaves, I run over them several times, and then either add them at the edge of each raised bed, or down the middle depending on what I am growing. I dig a trench, and put in the mulched leaves. By the next growing season, they have turned into wonderful black soil.
I hold some back in large pots, which I "park" at the end of each bed. These are used during the growing season on top of the soil, around the plants. Mulched leaves allow rain to penetrate, whereas leaves that have not been mulched seem to let the rain run off.
Turned my pile, so glad I did. Found it very moist and warm, but parts stinky in the bottom half. Lots of worms too though.There's really no way to know what's going on inside there without turning or digging into it.
I'm holding onto bags of mulched leaves when I need summer mulch on the garden.
if we have continued nice weather..as were "suppose to"
i will finish off leaves i didnt get to last fall..about 12 or so bags..
checked my leaf compost (shredded leaves and some alfalfa meal)
it is rotting very nicely ..yea !!!
there were so many little worms at base ..:) sigh..ahhhhh...
yrs ago..and i know im telling how nuts i am.. lol.. i use to go out
after good rain (in summer) take a bucket..and collect worms in street
gutters.. yea. im a freak..:)
please..someone.. anyone..say youve done the same !!!????
i used some of the leaf compost,and what is left from regular compost
and dug in to bed where cold frame is..
the mesclun mix is ..and its up now !!!
its hard to beat leaf compost/mulch/mold.. whatever ya wanna call it !!
I am slowly learning the importance of turning a compost pile. I have a habit of making them too large, then they get compacted and are very hard to chop though when turning. I just finished using a large compost pile, the edges were worked by the worms and were super, but the center was very compacted. When I dug though it with the potato hoe, the large chunks would break into lovely black compost. I think it was actually so compacted the worms could not get through it. I have another pile that is long and low and I have worked it many times, the texture of the two piles is totally different. I do need to make myself keep the piles lower and make them longer so they do not get so compacted and make them easier to keep turned.Then I have my shredded leaf piles, it is hard to decide which I like better the texture of the shredded leaf piles or the texture of the compost piles, anyhow its all good stuff. Does anyone else dig through their piles and see stuff that lovely golden brown color and then see the dark rich black color and wonder which is actually the prettiest?
Mine is so small that I don't have your "problem". Too BIG a com post pile? That's the part of heaven I want to go to when I die.
I fondle my com post pretty often, but it tends to go from "yard waste and garbage" to "black" in one step.
I read that worms like a lot of air, and tend to stay in the top few inches of vermicomposting piles, but that may be different from compost heaps.
Maybe you could use a rake handle or length of rebar to drill holes through your bigger heaps, to let air in .
Do you do anything to keep rain from leaching out the goodies? I keep my heap in a part of the yard that needs the nutrients. If I had the time and energy, I would spread out a mound of pure clay that I've excavated, screen out the rocks, and park my compost heap on top of the clay. Then the "drippings" would tend convert the clay to soil.
I don't cover my compost piles either. I just let what nutrients are leaching out go into the ground. I figure the worms are going to bring them back up when they come calling anyhow. Plus, compost is great because it holds nutrients for a long time I think, and for the few months the pile is turning into compost I don't think many nutrients are lost. Oh, that may be a difference, when my compost pile is finished, it is put in the garden and another pile is started in the same spot. So probably six months for fall started compost and three or four tops for spring and summer started compost piles.
Also I would like to ask how much rain do you other "composters" think it would take to actually penetrate your piles all the way to the bottom. After two inches of rain my piles are normally wet only down maybe an inch. I picked up a truck load of dried grass clippings after two days of hard rains and I don't think more than the top 1/2 inch was wet, down below was powder dry. I have read the advice to keep your piles covered and it maybe best, I just have not found it necessary. I also don't have a fence or railing enclosing the pile, it makes it way to hard to have access when turning the pile.
I agree with Seedfork- my view is that the compost IS the nutrients, so to speak, it is the bulk of the living and partially decomposed stuff thats all seething in there...
Mine is mostly brown tree leaves and it takes a LOT to get them wet through. And the piles dry out on the sides all the time. When I moved my Earthmachine, three foot tall bin, with lots of moist and even soggy stuff, there were STILL pockets of dry leaves underneath it all.
I seldom have heavy rain, but for 8-9 months we seldom have a clear sky or three days in a row with NO rain.
Once I DO get it wet all the way through, sometimes I see a little ooze out the bottom. Howev er, that look too long by hand, so I ran a 1/4" tube many feet from an irrigation mainline, and ran a little jet sprinkler on it every time I watered anything. THAT, plus some forking around, got it wet all the way through!
>> So, how do you keep all the nutrients from the compost pile from leaching out, before they get to benefit the veggie plants?
My ambition was to spread the compost, or turn it under, almost as soon as it was nearly finished. I don't mind running it through a coarse screen (1/2" or 1") before I wheelbarrow it away. But I got busy, and now I have4 a few wheelbarrows-full waiting for spring turning.
The people who spot-compost almost anything without any composting at all, eventually convinced me that I was waiting longer than necessary. Instead of letting my pile shrink 50% before using it, I could put some of that semi-digested stuff into the soil "early" and let it finish right there.
>> And the piles dry out on the sides all the time.
Agreed. I also think that rain washes the fine stuff out of the sides and leaves the twigs and shreds sticking out. Half the time, before turning or instead of turning, I rake the surface coarse dry stuff from right to left, so that the right-hand third of the pile is usually ready to screen, and the left-hand third is recently-added stuff.
The middle is where I add kitchen scraps and do the must turning.
''Agreed. I also think that rain washes the fine stuff out of the sides and leaves the twigs and shreds sticking out. Half the time, before turning or instead of turning, I rake the surface coarse dry stuff from right to left, so that the right-hand third of the pile is usually ready to screen, and the left-hand third is recently-added stuff.
The middle is where I add kitchen scraps and do the must turning.''
I have a bin thats made from 4 foot ends and 8 foot sides stacked lincoln log style--and thats how I use it, when the leaf load starts to shrink down. Wood keeps the moisture in but the corners and edges still can be dry
I picked up a truck load of leaves and grass clippings yesterday. This morning I got up early and got them all shredded with the lawn mower. I started a new compost pile where the old pile had been that I used to create my new beds with. The first picture shows the dark area left from the old pile, the next picture shows the first layer of shredded leaves(I cut the sprinkler on while I am preparing the next layer). The third picture shows the pile built up just over a foot, that is all a truck load of shredded leaves will cover. Tomorrow time for another load (I already have them spotted, I think I might be able to get two loads from the pile).
that time of year again..yea!!! bagged leaves everywhere..omg..
is it christmas???? LOL
i gotta get out more on my runs and pick up leaves..
every yr i always think..wow..enough..then come spring..i think..???
why didnt i get more.. LOL im sure others feel same way..
shredded leaves are great compost/soil ammendments..and best
yet.. they are FREE !!!! :)
I was all set to fill up my bins with DS but he decided he wanted to make a huge leaf pile…so they sit for a few more weeks.
Took a couple stumps to the dump- there were people on both sides of us dumping entire bags of leaves into the dumpster and taking their bags home again. And then there are all the bags on the side of the road...
Must be a sign of the hard times here, last year bagged leaves were easy to find, this year not the case. They are just piled up by the road (no bags), so that means my seedfork is getting much more use this year. I have picked up over 20 truck loads over the past two weeks, the compost piles are now built (emptied them in late Sept. to go into the beds, started them back up in Oct.) Of course over the next few months the piles will all shrink down and need to be topped back off, but I will not be needing nearly as many leaves for that. It always seems we have trips planned during the peak leaf gathering weeks. Again this year we will be gone for the last two weeks in November, and maybe it is just being gone but I swear those are the two best weeks of the year to pick up leaves. Yes I also plan every year to have a huge leaf pile in reserve to use during the rest of the year, but my energy and enthusiasm seem to run out before I end up with a surplus, takes all I can do just to get the piles built, and add to the fill for the bog garden area. This is about my favorite time of year, every thing is so beautiful, the days are just perfect, blue skies and mild temperatures, and tons of leaves.