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Leaves, compost, leaves...

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  donnainzone5 on 11/17/2012, 10:47 am

So.... What is a reasonable expectation as to the ratio between bags of leaves and shredded leaves? 1:12, 1:10, 1:6, or what? I have 25-30 bags now and plan to utilize my neighbors' shredder this week. Very Happy


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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  camprn on 11/17/2012, 11:20 am

donnainzone10 wrote:So.... What is a reasonable expectation as to the ratio between bags of leaves and shredded leaves? 1:12, 1:10, 1:6, or what? I have 25-30 bags now and plan to utilize my neighbors' shredder this week. Very Happy

I believe it would depend upon how fine you chop them as to the final yield of chopped leaves.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Kelejan on 11/17/2012, 12:11 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:So.... What is a reasonable expectation as to the ratio between bags of leaves and shredded leaves? 1:12, 1:10, 1:6, or what? I have 25-30 bags now and plan to utilize my neighbors' shredder this week. Very Happy

I used my leaf collector/shredder, and I found that 8 bags reduced to five. They were not shredded very finely, just a bit better than the whole leaves but it wshould help compared to last year when none were shredded.
The leaves that my neighbour gave me were much finer and I could hardly lift each bag.
So I guess it all depends on the shredder. I do doubt the 16 to one ratio that was mentioned with the Toro shredder someone used earlier.
ETA; it was LlamaMamma who had the Toro, and she said later that it did not do anywhere near 16 bags to one.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Turan on 11/17/2012, 1:39 pm

@littlejo wrote:
I have a new composting book, Compost Gardening, and learned something new, if it is true. Leaves should be 'leached' well before they will be ready for composting, to remove the ligin. I guess that means they must be wet first? then dried, chipped, then composted?
Jo

This got me curious about lignin . I knew it is part of woody stuff along with cellulose. What I learned is that it is very slow to decompose and resists water. In plants it is used to glue things together and for the movement of water (I guess like a bucket needs to be water proof?). Sooooo..... what does that remind you of in MM? I went looking for a peat analysis and found out that sure nuff peat is 40+% lignin. If peat bogs are not leaching out the lignin I doubt we will either and possibly we should not worry about it.

I am thinking that we are composting out the cellulose as a brown and the lignin starts its slow process to humic acid. Shredding leaves gives more exposure to the cellulose and thus speeds the process.


Last edited by camprn on 11/17/2012, 2:33 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fixed quote box)

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Kelejan on 11/17/2012, 1:50 pm

It is the lignin that allow trees to stand tall.
Somewhere in Washington State there is a huge forest that was burnt many years ago and is still standing but dead. It is the lignin that holds it together. Apparently the whole area's ecosystem is dead, and if they were to introduce insects such as ants it would eventually fall down and things would begin to grow naturally. That was according to a plaque we read. For some reason they keep it as a monument. A waste IMO.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  quiltbea on 11/17/2012, 1:51 pm

Turan......I just know that using fallen leaves in your garden compost is a good thing so the chemical analysis isn't a problem.
My philosphy is: If it works, use it.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Turan on 11/17/2012, 2:21 pm

@quiltbea wrote:Turan......I just know that using fallen leaves in your garden compost is a good thing so the chemical analysis isn't a problem.
My philosphy is: If it works, use it.

Agree completily.

I was responding to what Little jo had read in a composting book. I am not sure why my quote thingy did not work.

We all know through experience that leaves work well in compost but can have issues with matting and taking a long time. The lignin content is to blame, but it is not going to leach out.


Here is a really interesting article on Leaf Mold from Organic Gardening. Among other things they are suggesting using leaf mold instead of peat in mixtures.

http://www.organicgardeningzen.com/gardening-guide/leaf-mold-guide/

It has one error that I can now see (having researched lignin all morning now, What a Face ), lignin is not cellulose.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  yolos on 11/17/2012, 5:28 pm

Here is my leaf shredding set up.

First I have a huge live oak tree very near my garden. That helps a lot in obtaining the necessary leaves.


So I used my mulching/leaf bagging mower to mow the leaves and emptied the leaves between two rows of my garden. This kept them from blowing around.


My grandson slowed me down a little. He just had to play in the leaves. Didn't we all when we were kids.


Then I used stuff laying around the house and garden to make a corral so the leaves would not blow around when I mulched them. The corral was built at the end of the row where I stacked the leaves and right in front of the compost bin. So I just used a flat head shovel to shovel the shredded leaves into the bin. Although my mower has a bag to catch the leaves, I do not use it for this job because I like to mow over the leaves about 2 - 3 times to make them as small as possible.


Here is the finished product. Some of the leaves are bigger than I want them, but some are almost the size of sawdust they are so small.


The smaller the better but you have to be careful that they do not pack down too much. I will have to do some turning of the bin to keep air in the pile or do as Camprn does and make a few smoke stacks.

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leaves in bags

Post  n8915p on 11/17/2012, 9:22 pm

I have read and wanted to try this but I don't usually bag leaves. Just leave the leaves in the blag garbage bags over winter in the sun and they are supposed to start decomposiing.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  llama momma on 11/18/2012, 3:21 am

@Turan wrote:


Here is a really interesting article on Leaf Mold from Organic Gardening. Among other things they are suggesting using leaf mold instead of peat in mixtures.

http://www.organicgardeningzen.com/gardening-guide/leaf-mold-guide/

Turan
I Appreciate this article very much
Yesterday I made and filled a new leaf-mold holding bin only 4ft diameter because I was stuck in a compost mind set. Luckily I didn't cut off the excess wire. Later today with this new knowledge I'll open it up to make a wider bin and add cardboard sides.
Once Again I continue to learn from so many helpful folks on this forum! BIG hug

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  bnoles on 11/25/2012, 10:06 pm

Oh...... for a pile of leaves like this cyclops

Lots of leaves

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  llama momma on 11/26/2012, 7:52 am

What a great video! OH Wow! I'd love to be 30 years younger and one of those kids. That was fun to watch. That pile puts my collection to shame. Smile

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/26/2012, 11:44 am

OMG! That video is crazy! All I could think of was, please don't let a bare leg meet up with a stick.
Oiy...

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  NHGardener on 11/26/2012, 7:23 pm

Will a pile of plain leaves get hot?

Today I took my turkey thermometer out to my compost piles, but they didn't seem to be very hot. I have layers of all kinds of things on the piles, but also a lot of leaves, topped with seaweed. Granted, it was cold outside - I know weather shouldn't affect the temp greatly, but still.

It might be that I haven't aerated the pile in a long time, but I just wondered if leaves alone would produce a heated pile, because if so, mine should be heated with all those leaves.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  camprn on 11/26/2012, 7:37 pm

Dried leaves are mostly carbon, not nitrogen. I have had leaves sitting in a hoop by themselves for a few years. They never got hot but are breaking down slowly.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  llama momma on 11/27/2012, 6:50 am

I saw an article that a plain pile of leaves could take a couple of years to break down. That's your leaf mold. If you want to speed things up towards the end you can turn it into more of a compost heap by adding finished compost to jumpstart the microbial decomposition.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Kelejan on 11/27/2012, 8:03 am

@llama momma wrote:I saw an article that a plain pile of leaves could take a couple of years to break down. That's your leaf mold. If you want to speed things up towards the end you can turn it into more of a compost heap by adding finished compost to jumpstart the microbial decomposition.
I think greens for nitrogen should be added as well so that the microbes have something to feed on?

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  llama momma on 11/27/2012, 11:32 am

Oops, I think 'finished' compost was not the best choice of words. Compost would have been better. Meaning active compost. Wish I could name the source of the info but it went something like this, the carb portion, or browns, was the food or energy for the microbes and the nitrogen source, or greens was important for reproduction of the microbes. I'll try to track down the source so I can back this up with facts. Embarassed Active compost would have a good variety of microbes and benefit the final breakdown of the leaves. Or without compost we know alfalfa pellets can be added too. No big deal which source is used.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  NHGardener on 11/27/2012, 11:37 am

I have layers including coffee grinds from the local shop, wood fragments from rotten logs in the woods, dried leaves, garden debris, and seaweed, along with kitchen scraps. I'd think my pile would be roaring hot, but no.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  llama momma on 11/27/2012, 12:13 pm

Bunny pellets or straight alfalfa pellets, bloodmeal, manure? Just tossing out some more green ideas for you. Then there is always urine at 1:20 dilution rate too...... maybe there is something in that list you can use..
Also check the moisture and aeration. The pile will still break down in time, some say a slow cold pile will be more nutritious, but I can think of pros and cons to both hot piles and cold... Sure would be nice to have everything perfect to start off spring planting. I'm still mulching, building compost piles, and corraling all these blasted leaves at my place..

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  NHGardener on 11/27/2012, 12:33 pm

Thanks for the nudge, I'm heading out there right now to twist a pitchfork in it some.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Kelejan on 11/27/2012, 1:46 pm

@NHGardener wrote:I have layers including coffee grinds from the local shop, wood fragments from rotten logs in the woods, dried leaves, garden debris, and seaweed, along with kitchen scraps. I'd think my pile would be roaring hot, but no.

How big is your pile? That has a bearing on it as well. Recommended size is 3x3 to 4x4. (feet)

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  NHGardener on 11/27/2012, 1:55 pm

That could be it too - I'm building my piles right into my new 4x8 beds, so it heaps to 2' in the middle.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/27/2012, 4:40 pm

NHG, you have good stuff in your pile.

My compost piles have lots of leaves, too...and most of them are from scrub oak, which are like leather. As I pile the leaves, I water it, then sprinkle some finished compost over it between every 2 mower bags full, along with all the other stuff like you mentioned.

Not sure I'd put logs in it, even rotted. Don't they use up nitrogen fast?

Do you have access to already made compost? Like LM, I really believe that's key...

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  NHGardener on 11/27/2012, 7:08 pm

Huh. Well, if the rotted log wood uses up the nitrogen fast, that might be okay because there's more nitrogen than carbon in there, with all the coffee grounds I've put on the piles, and then the seaweed on top. I read the balance should be 4 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen, in general.

I took a pitchfork to the piles today and gave them a good twist. They weren't frozen, like my smaller (1x8) beds were, so that's good. I need to invest in a good compost thermometer.

Another thing I put in there a month or so back was black soil from the woods which was decomposed around rocks. That stuff must be super high in nutrients. Along with some moss growing around the rocks. I'm hoping there might even be some minerals in it, absorbed from the rocks.

One could just grow a compost pile instead of a garden, it's fun. Smile

cc, is that shredded paper on your pile?

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

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