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Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by foxies, Nov 15, 2005.
I have a great supply of leaves. So how much can I add to the garden?
Add as much as you can. Chopping them first will help them compost better in your soil. You might want to add manure if you can get it, or dried blood. This will also help to break the carbon down into soil quicker. A bit of limestone works well too. Green manure like rye or buckwheat as a cover crop after applying the leaves is great. The idea is to continually be trying to improve your soil. Don't stop with the leaves.
I've got about 6" of leaves on the garden now. By planting time next spring I expect that to be a combination of flattened and composted to about 2"
We run the leaves over with a bagging lawn mower, then put them in the beds.
I read a few years back that if you put leaves into those big black plastic garbage bags, sprinkle in a bit of 10-10-10 fertilizer, roll 'em around a bit, and open in the Spring, they'll be broken down and ready to put on the garden. Never tried it, but keep meaning to do that...
The dead plant material will actually take nitrogen from the soil to break down which is why adding manure or dried blood will hasten the process. Commercial fertilizer will do the same but although I think the whole organic scene is a little overdone and not totally on the up & up, the soil is alive and I think is healthier without the chemical fertilizer. Now you have to understand that most nitrogen found in bags is fixed from the atmosphere so it too is "organic" yes? Oil and gas is in reality organic too since it is found in the earth, albeit refined and processed. So if you apply that criteria to other products then the food we grow isn't organic either since humans have had a hand in its processing. I'm not sure if there is a legal definition of organic in this state or if it is mandated federally or not. My point is that your best approch is to treat the soils as a living thing. It changes from season to season and over time. Keep it healthy and alive.
Don't forget to save some for mulching! Shredded leaves are wonderful, and the earthworms love it. When I had unlimited access to leaves--mostly maple--I never noticed a problem with the nitrogen problem after the first year. Did mulch with tons of fresh grass, tho. (High in nitrogen) What I did notice, was that the bacteria in the soil that converts leaves and grass to compost underwent a popluation explosion, the soil turned from tan subsoil to black stuff, and that the level of the 9 x 18 garden that orginally was 4" below the grade of the lawn eventually needed a double row of landscape timbers to keep the soil from spilling out. Go for it!