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Leaf mold for part of peat?

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Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  Judy McConnell on 9/29/2014, 9:30 am

When I finish cleaning out my leaf pile, I will have 50+ gal of leaf mold (LARGE pile).

Know that I can amend the soil beds with it and will.

Could I use part of the mold for peat? OR would the mold break down much faster than the peat does?

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  camprn on 9/29/2014, 12:31 pm

@Judy McConnell wrote:When I finish cleaning out my leaf pile, I will have 50+ gal of leaf mold (LARGE pile).

Know that I can amend the soil beds with it and will.

Could I use part of the mold for peat? OR would the mold break down much faster than the peat does?
The similarities of leaf mold and sphagnum peat is that they both are soil conditioners and improve tilth. The difference is that the leaf mold offer nutrients to the plants in the garden, the sphagnum peat does not.

Just use the leaf mold and skip the peat.

http://www.ehow.com/info_12097078_leaf-mold-vs-peat-moss.html


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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  Judy McConnell on 9/29/2014, 12:45 pm

Thank you very much, Camprn  -- your advice is ALWAYS most welcome and accurate

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  sanderson on 9/29/2014, 2:00 pm

Okay, I read the post and 3 web articles, and now I have a question.  A new member was using leaf mold as one of the 5 parts of compost.  But, Camp's reply and the articles I just read seem to lean in the direction that leaf mold would fall into the peat moss substitute category and not the 5-way compost category.  Beginners (opps, that includes me Embarassed ) could be confused on where leaf mold fits in the Mel's Mix formula.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  boffer on 9/29/2014, 2:29 pm

As far as I know, leaf mold=composted leaves.

I've always used leaves as 20% of my MM.

I didn't realize they could make an adequate substitute for peat moss. That's a good tip for someone on a tight budget.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  llama momma on 9/29/2014, 2:53 pm

In Barbara Pleasants book leaf mold is "what happens after leaves leach and weather until they rot.  Should you unexpectedly  need some high-carbon organic matter for another composting project at any point during this process, you can get all you need from leaf-mold-in-the-making.  Once it's finished, leaf mold can be substituted for peat moss in homemade potting soils or other garden projects."   From page 85 The Compete Compost Gardening Guide. 

Let  me clarify the point above.  It is describing a pile of Pure Leaves that are rotting, without other ingredients like twigs, garden waste, coffee grounds, kitchen waste, manure, etc.  As soon as you add other types of ingredients, then the pile becomes a mixture of a typical compost pile that  decomposes and contains a whole slew of other biological things going on.  The end result is not a substitute for peat.  This is compost.

Bottom  Line:  Leaf mold comes from pure leaves and (okay plus water).   Add anything else and it becomes a type of compost.

Gosh I hope this helps.  It seems clear in my head anyway!

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  sanderson on 9/29/2014, 3:49 pm

LM, Thanks. I have that book.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  Judy McConnell on 9/29/2014, 3:58 pm

Something else I discovered is that leaf mold is formed by fungi and compost is formed by bacteria.

http://www.permies.com/t/13602/organic/Incredible-Amazing-Leaf-Mold

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  yolos on 9/29/2014, 4:20 pm

But won't leaf mold continue to decompose and you will have to keep adding it.  I agree, I would use it also to replace peat.  I kinda hate the peat.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  sanderson on 9/29/2014, 4:25 pm

@Judy McConnell wrote: leaf mold is formed by fungi

Cough, cough. And it will stain concrete, pavers, etc. I have to rake/sweep and contain all the fall leaves and not leave them over winter. I have areas permanently stained.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  llama momma on 9/29/2014, 4:44 pm

Yolos

No organics will last forever, right? 

Can leaf mold last longer that peat?  I don't know.  Leaf mold will eventually degrade into humus. 
Compost does too. 

If Mels mix can last up to 10 years along with the usual addition of compost, is it better to use peat after all?   I'm not sure who can answer that with authority.

For those who are interested in renewable resources, at least leaf mold can be made right in your own back yard practically for free with very little effort on your part.

Here is part of a leaf mold article from organicgardening.com that might be of interest:
 
Using Leaf Mold
Now, here's how to use this nutrient-rich soil conditioner.

  • Peat substitute. Use leaf mold in place of peat because it has similar qualities and it's a renewable resource.
  • Moisture-retaining mulch. Leaf mold can hold up to 500 times its own weight in water. Place it around (but not touching) the crowns of annuals, perennials, and vegetables to help them maintain moisture during summer.
  • Soil conditioner. It's easier for roots to penetrate soil and take up nutrients when the soil is not as dense. Dr. Maynard and her colleagues in Connecticut completed a 12-year study on the role leaf mold plays in changing soil characteristics. They found that garden soil amended with leaf mold had a 20 percent lower bulk density than soil to which leaf mold was not added.
  • Drought-proof soil. The Connecticut study also found that soils amended with leaf mold increased their water-holding capacity by almost 50 percent. The amended soil could hold nearly a two-week supply of water for vegetables. Caution: This water-holding capacity can be a problem for seeds planted in early spring, because they may rot in the cool, wet soil. Dr. Maynard suggests planting extra seeds to compensate for seeds lost to rot.
  • Seedling mix. Mix one part leaf mold with one part well-aged compost or worm castings for a nutrient-rich potting mixture for seedlings.

What Is It?
Leaf mold: Leaves that have fully decomposed over a long time.
Leaf compost: Compost made by mixing leaves with other organic materials.
Humus: The dark, spongy material created when microorganisms break down organic matter. Leaf mold and leaf compost both eventually turn into humus.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  camprn on 9/29/2014, 5:34 pm

@yolos wrote:But won't leaf mold continue to decompose and you will have to keep akdding it.  I agree, I would use it also to replace peat.  I kinda hate the peat.
. As does the sphagnum. This is why you replenish with good quality mixed compost each season.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  camprn on 9/29/2014, 5:36 pm

@sanderson wrote:Okay, I read the post and 3 web articles, and now I have a question.  A new member was using leaf mold as one of the 5 parts of compost.  But, Camp's reply and the articles I just read seem to lean in the direction that leaf mold would fall into the peat moss substitute category and not the 5-way compost category.  Beginners (opps, that includes me Embarassed ) could be confused on where leaf mold fits in the Mel's Mix formula.
it can be both.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  camprn on 9/29/2014, 5:37 pm

Fungi makes the world go round.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  Judy McConnell on 9/30/2014, 8:36 am

I love the thought that I won't have to use peat in my MM mix and if it looks like the mold is decomposing, one can add a bit more to the bed.  Free is good.

One bed has not been converted to MM and the soil doesn't look like it is humus-filled enough - so it will get lots of the leaf mold.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  llama momma on 9/30/2014, 10:06 am

@Judy McConnell wrote:Something else I discovered is that leaf mold is formed by fungi and compost is formed by bacteria.

http://www.permies.com/t/13602/organic/Incredible-Amazing-Leaf-Mold

Judy
I really enjoyed the above article.  I learned more about the mineral content of leaf mold. Happy to have two leaf corrals out back, both approx. 6 x 8 ft wide and couple feet deep and over a year and 1/2 old.  I feed some of it to my worm bins too.   It's nice to think that between 5 compost pallet bins, 2 leaf corrals, and 9 worm bins,  that I never again have to buy fertilizer for the sfg beds or non sfg flower beds. As long as I stay healthy enough to take care of it.
Smile

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  Kelejan on 9/30/2014, 10:58 am

@sanderson wrote:
@Judy McConnell wrote: leaf mold is formed by fungi

Cough, cough.  And it will stain concrete, pavers, etc.  I have to rake/sweep and contain all the fall leaves and not leave them over winter.  I have areas permanently stained.

In our city they planted many trees, some of them with red leaves that stain the sidealks each year. Does not look pretty on the white concrete.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  Marc Iverson on 9/30/2014, 1:17 pm

LM, you certainly laid in the foundations for healthy soil. Lotta work, but what great soil you should have and what a lot of money you might be saving over someone having to buy what you can get for free now with a little elbow grease.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  llama momma on 9/30/2014, 3:42 pm

Thanks Marc.  I started 4 years ago with one autumn box. It's truly been a work in progress like everyone else around here. I'm stopping at ten boxes. There are additional non sfg areas to support with compost too. Think I reached my capacity to produce compost for all of it. It's been a super fun journey so far.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  sanderson on 9/30/2014, 4:51 pm

@llama momma wrote: I'm stopping at ten boxes. There are additional non sfg areas to support with compost too. Think I reached my capacity to produce compost for all of it. It's been a super fun journey so far.
A very important equilibrium for beginners to consider if they eventually want to use only their compost.

Compost making capacity = max number of boxes/beds.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  sanderson on 10/1/2014, 2:05 am

Does anyone use tougher leaves (such as my xylosma and photinia) for over-winter leaf mold?  They aren't good for the Berkeley compost and have always gone into the green waste.  If I set the bags or can (moistened and perforated) in a semi sunny winter location, will they break down enough to be used as browns in my first spring Berkeley compost?


Last edited by sanderson on 10/1/2014, 12:39 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  Denese on 10/5/2014, 9:46 am

Okay... stupid question, maybe.  How do I go about using all my leaves (and I  have lots) to make leaf mold?  I have a spot where I could pile them up, but do I do anything else?  By spring the ones I don't get raked are still fairly intact.  Do I turn them, like compost?  Do they need to be covered with a tarp or something, or should they be left open to the snow and rain?  Also, does it matter what kind of leaves, or can any leaves be used?  I have a combination of maple, oak, and hickory, mostly.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  llama momma on 10/5/2014, 10:15 am

No, Not a stupid question.
Here's what I've done.  (or even go online and google for more ideas too)
Both of my 6 by 8ft piles are contained inside of 4 ft tall wire fencing.  Started with over 150 bags of leaves. I shredded a little bit but soon tired of that real fast.  All it needs is some water now and then and left alone for about 2 years.  I just let rain and snow water it for me.  The piles will be 2 years old this January.  There is leaf mold at the bottom.  I didn't water it or cover it at all.  Since the piles condense and shrink down I recently put one pile into the other. There are still whole leaves on top, no big deal.
  By condensing piles it will free up one leaf corral to load up again with more fresh leaves this year.   I've read where you can help speed things up by watering and  turning over the pile.  
But I didn't want to work that hard at it Laughing .  Some leaves will break down quicker than others, no big deal, let it be or shred them.
Mother nature's effort and time,  along with ease works for me.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  Judy McConnell on 10/5/2014, 10:44 am

Llama Momma - I love the word "corral" because that is what we do - corral the leaves!

Denese - I did basically what LM did - piled all my maple (only type tree on property) leaves in a corner of the yard and let them sit for 3-4 years - no turning, chopping, watering.

I suspect if one did the turning, chopping, watering - the process would be speeded up but I didn't take the time to do these.

This is the year to clean out the leaf mold and re-pile the undigested leaves, making room for the new crop of leaves.

BTW - lots of earthworms down deep in the pile.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

Post  llama momma on 10/5/2014, 10:51 am

Another benefit to leaf corrals is at some point during winter when I run out of saved frozen veggie scraps to feed my indoor worm herd, I simply go outside and get leaves and a little leaf mold for them to dine on.

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Re: Leaf mold for part of peat?

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