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..
whos been collecting leaves?
fall is here and its time to start driving around collecting bagged leaves for digging into
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..
I've collected a few bags from around the neighborhood. I'm hoping my neighbor will pick-up some in his truck before fall is over.
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 !!!!!!!!!!!!
Added to my to do list- steal a car during Super bowl!!! a hahaha!
I debate whether black bags or clear bags would be better for storing the leaves and getting them to start rotting on their own. But I guess- all bags of leaves are good bags.
i would love to trade some bleeding hearts for a bag of leaves!
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.
SP sounds like you have a lot of bleeding hearts!
mt- Well, maybe I already am. When the leaves get to the right stage the worms just seem to come and multiply. Do you do something special to foster the worms?
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???
Most alfalfa has been genetically modified to be Round Up resistant
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..
just got a whole pickup load of leaves.....neighbor up the road had just raked them and was glad for me to haul them off. i have terrible (red clay) soil so anything helps!
also, just found a source for rabbit manure....$15 a tractor scoop?
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!
This message was edited Dec 9, 2012 11:49 PM
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