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Adding old leaves to compost bin?

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Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  donnainzone5 on 3/22/2014, 5:52 pm

I have many, many one-year-old+ bags of leaves.

After all this time, do I need to shred them before adding them to my compost bin?  (The leaves, not the bags, LOL!)

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  68carguy on 3/22/2014, 6:48 pm

Donnainzone10

Are they broken down at all yet? Were they moisten in the bag and starting to turn to a leaf mold? I find that by shredding then they break down much faster, I just run over mine in the fall with the mower a few times when they are very dry, then go back with the bagger attached and vacuum them up and add to the compost heap….I love leaves, I used to drive around in various neighborhoods in the fall where they mulch them and put them out for garbage collection by the curb, stop and throw them in the back of my truck. My daughter being around 12 or 13 hated me for this,,,she was so embarrassed….

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  camprn on 3/22/2014, 6:58 pm

If you shred them it will give more surface area for the compost pile bacteria to do their thing. If you leave them whole the compost will take a bit longer to finish.

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  Turan on 3/22/2014, 7:04 pm

I used bags of such leaves to mulch the garden last year. They were especially nice in the greenhouse around hte tomatoes and in the beds around broccoli. There is still a layer in hte greenhouse that I intend to treat like wood chips, ie I will add some finished compost on top and water it in. The stuff used to mulch the out side beds has all decayed now.

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  CapeCoddess on 3/22/2014, 7:05 pm

I often have bags of debris or leaves or sticks laying around for months or years. If it looks like my compost pile needs or can handle something, and I think its a good match /mix, I will add it.

Does it look like your compost bin can handle  the leaves the way they are now?  And be finished by the time you need it?

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  camprn on 3/22/2014, 7:45 pm

@Turan wrote:I used bags of such leaves to mulch the garden last year.  They were especially nice in the greenhouse around hte tomatoes and in the beds around broccoli.  There is still a layer in hte greenhouse that I intend to treat like wood chips, ie I will add some finished compost on top and water it in.  The stuff used to mulch the out side beds has all decayed now.
+1, less the greenhouse.

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  sanderson on 12/9/2014, 1:31 pm

This Topic is close enough to my urgent question.

Leaves from a pear tree that was next to a tree that had Mistletoe??  Across the street is a yard full of ornamental pear tree leaves but I am hesitant to go over and rake them.

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  plantoid on 12/9/2014, 2:39 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:I have many, many one-year-old+ bags of leaves.

After all this time, do I need to shred them before adding them to my compost bin?  (The leaves, not the bags, LOL!)
If your going to be turning your heaps  running the lawn mower over the leaves to shred them is helpful to make the surface areas more compostable .

I still have several cubic yards of these sort of mulched leaves that I'm slowly adding in two inch layers on top of other composting material as the height in the bins drops due to composting action.

 I also have several cubic feet of damp un-trashed oak leaves .. these untouched leaves do take a long time to compost ,  the acid in the whole leaves seems to preserve them for a couple of years .

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  sanderson on 12/9/2014, 2:53 pm

Plantoid, thanks for answering. However, this is an older topic I highjacked because I don't know if Mistletoe is a big No-No for composting.

I'm going to rake another neighbor's lawn for his Pistachio leaves right now! The leaves are small and skinny! We are getting a hard rain in 48 hours so I am trying to collect what ever clean leaves I can find for future composts.

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  plantoid on 12/9/2014, 3:07 pm

Mistletoe is poisonous to humans in its green form , so are most evergreen leaves .

 I don't know about it when it's been composted & mixed in with other compost .

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 12/9/2014, 4:59 pm

@plantoid wrote:
donnainzone10 wrote:I have many, many one-year-old+ bags of leaves.

After all this time, do I need to shred them before adding them to my compost bin?  (The leaves, not the bags, LOL!)
If your going to be turning your heaps  running the lawn mower over the leaves to shred them is helpful to make the surface areas more compostable .

I still have several cubic yards of these sort of mulched leaves that I'm slowly adding in two inch layers on top of other composting material as the height in the bins drops due to composting action.

 I also have several cubic feet of damp un-trashed oak leaves .. these untouched leaves do take a long time to compost ,  the acid in the whole leaves seems to preserve them for a couple of years .
Here's my experience with composting leaves:  I used to live on a property in San Diego that had ancient 500 to 600 year old giant oak trees.  Because of the mild climate they dropped their very small sized leaves all year around (no need to crush them).  Every week I would mow the three lawns and blow the leaves off of the huge patio (my exercise regime).  I mixed those two elements in the proportion they were gathered each week and made amazing compost very easily.  

Thinking about it now, I probably was high on the nitrogen side since reaching temps of 140-160 were common.  I would turn the pile each week while building materials for the next pile.  This was before I knew anything about hot composting, I was just using what I had on hand.  

That property had humus 2 feet deep and with not a SINGLE rock in it.  Everything grew so easily there my only struggle was the deep shade.  The Oak trees had produced their own soil over all the years, without anything but the leaves sitting and eventually breaking down.

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  camprn on 12/9/2014, 6:57 pm

Compost the mistletoe in a hot pile. All will be well.
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/soil/msg121249252447.html

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  yolos on 12/9/2014, 7:52 pm

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:
Here's my experience with composting leaves:  I used to live on a property in San Diego that had ancient 500 to 600 year old giant oak trees.  Because of the mild climate they dropped their very small sized leaves all year around (no need to crush them).
Audrey - your description of the oak leaves leads me to believe they were live oak leaves.  I have a lot of live oak trees and I have read some information on the internet that mentioned the live oak leaves may be alliopathic (sp).  Did you have any problem with seeds germinating in the live oak leaf compost.

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  boffer on 12/9/2014, 8:52 pm

Allelopathic...thanks for suggesting my new word of day!

From what I've found, the leaves of some red oaks (Quercus falcata, Quercus marilandica, Quercus rubra) and one type of white oak (Quercus stellata) are strongly allelopathic.  They are mostly found in your area of the country.  

For the last 5 years or so, 20% of my compost has been Oregon White Oak/Garry Oak, Quercus garryana.  It's the only native oak in the PNW.  I haven't had any problems with them, other than when we use them as mulch we end up growing oak seedlings in the flower beds!

I don't know if there's a difference in content between live and dead oak leaves.

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 12/9/2014, 8:56 pm

@yolos wrote:
@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:
Here's my experience with composting leaves:  I used to live on a property in San Diego that had ancient 500 to 600 year old giant oak trees.  Because of the mild climate they dropped their very small sized leaves all year around (no need to crush them).
Audrey - your description of the oak leaves leads me to believe they were live oak leaves.  I have a lot of live oak trees and I have read some information on the internet that mentioned the live oak leaves may be alliopathic (sp).  Did you have any problem with seeds germinating in the live oak leaf compost.
I don't know what species they were from, there aren't that many that are native to the San Diego area though.  They had tiny curled almost holly like leaves, perhaps 1-2 inches long at the most.

I never had an issue with seeds not starting (at least weed seeds!) but I didn't grow veggies or start my own seeds when I was there to really know.

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  sanderson on 12/10/2014, 12:44 am

@camprn wrote:Compost the mistletoe in a hot pile. All will be well.
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/soil/msg121249252447.html

Thanks, Camp, for responding to my question.  I saw this same article earlier and decided to go with my neighbor's leaves. I raked, DH mowed and we bagged.
I also raked and collected these Pistachio eaves from another neighbor. When I asked permission, he was a little amazed that someone would want to rake up his leaves to use in their garden.  He's that one neighbor that every hood has, gardening and maintenance is not his thing.

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 12/10/2014, 12:56 am

@boffer wrote: I haven't had any problems with them, other than when we use them as mulch we end up growing oak seedlings in the flower beds!
Growing up, I made my children pick 100 oak trees (seedlings) before they could come eat dinner, LOL!  I could be slightly exaggerating Laughing  but not by much!!!

This particular type of oak had a corkscrew taproot and if you didn't pick it before it was 6 inches tall you might never kill it. A grown man could tug on a 12" seedling and not be able to pull it out. Amazing creations.

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Re: Adding old leaves to compost bin?

Post  Cajun Cappy on 12/10/2014, 12:41 pm

For years we fought acorns, and corn stalks from growing around our plants, not from mulch and we didnt have an oak tree but planted by squirrels.  Like stated above if they get started they are very dificult to get rid of.  I have had to lay down worm my way under a shrub and ring some of them to get them to die.  Cut them off and 4 will sprout from the stump. Sad  Ring them and they die.

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