What to do with leaves

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Joey Wahoo, Nov 27, 2005.

  1. Joey Wahoo

    Joey Wahoo Well-Known Member

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    Any ideas for how to make productive use of the mountains of white oak leaves I have?

    I was thinking of getting them up, then burning them on the garden (that assumes that doing so would put nutrients into the soil). Is that a good idea? Is there something else I could use them for?

    Also, what is the best way to get them up? I'm still raking and bagging. I saw a machine in Lowe's that you carry on your back. It sucks up the leaves into a bag, and will mulch them. Made by Black and Decker and costs about $70. Would love to hear from anyone with thoughts on that.

    thanks in advance
     
  2. Qwispea

    Qwispea Well-Known Member

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    My understanding is that oak leaves are very acidic..and if so..you will want to make sure your garden soil is not also overly acidic..or you'll need to add an appropriate amount of lime.
    What do you grow in your garden? Do you have a blueberry patch? The blueberry loves acidic soil.

    I think I'd put the leaves in a separate compost pile..and add a bit of lime every time I dump leaves onto the pile. Not much..just a bit. Or..just leave the leaves on the ground and run them over with your lawn mower.
     

  3. BearCreekFarm

    BearCreekFarm Well-Known Member

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    You don't have to compost them seperately or add lime- finished compost is usually very close to ph nuetral.
     
  4. Michael83705

    Michael83705 Well-Known Member

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    Save them in a big pile and then next year mix them with grass clippings and other green stuff in a compost heap.

    With any luck they may start to mold in the pile and then then when you mix them with green stuff and they compost you will have great garden food. :)
     
  5. TnAndy

    TnAndy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Take some wire fencing ( like a fairly stiff wire.....not poultry wire ) and make it in rounds about 5' or so......pile as many leaves in there as you can and throw a pc of the same fence across the top to keep them from blowing too much. Next spring, peel back about a foot of the leaves and lay a bunch of seed potatoe pieces in there......replace the foot layer. Whole thing will be one big mass of potates in a few months !

    And by the next fall, you'll have a really nice pile of compost. Move wire rings and start over.
     
  6. Qwispea

    Qwispea Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info..I'm still learning about ph in my soil..and wasn't sure. Much appreciated.
     
  7. MaKettle

    MaKettle Well-Known Member

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    People complain that oak leaves take a long time to compost unless they have been shredded. They do. But with green grass or barnyard poop mixed in, they don't take that much longer.

    Since the leaves are nice and big, each leaf covers a good bit of ground. I loved them in the garden, unshredded or shredded, it didn't matter. They make lovely mulch around tomatoes, papers, over potatoes, etc. They also make an attractive mulch under bushes, although the shredded wood people may disagree. Once the soil bacteria that gobble oak leaves build up, they will disappear like magic.

    An easy way to shred them is to dump them into the chicken pen. The birds will rapidly break them down and provide ferilizer. Then scatter cracked corn over the litter, and the birds will turn it, areate it, and further break it down. By spring the most lovely stuff will be had for the scooping.

    Tried using leaves for horse bedding. Not absorbant enouhg, and it was terrible trying to sort the poop out of the leaves. They would make great bedding for pellet pooping critters, though.

    Read about a woman who wanted wildflowers in her woods, but the soil was poor. She built up barriers with fallen branches to contain the leaves, and hauled sack after sack to get a 2 foot depth. After a few years, the soil was perfect, and she planted through the mulch.

    Can't get enough of them. Don't burn them--they are too valuable!!
     
  8. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Deep leaves in a chicken coop is very insulating and as mentioned makes great mulch.

    If you put the leaves directly on the garden they will blow away. I'd run them over with the lawnmower and chop them up first.
     
  9. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    I no longer worry about them. Come spring and summer they disappear. When I did haul them away I just took an old bedsheed and made knots in the four corners. Spread it, raked on leaves in a big pile, gathered the four corners and slung over back. That is, back in my younger days.

    Another method is to punch some holes in the bottom of a metal garbage can. Put in a bag with the top over the edges. Put in leaves about full, then climb in and pack down. Repeat until no more leaves will fit in can. Then tie off and turn can over to dump out bag. Unless you have the air holes in the bottom the bag will not come out.

    I know gardeners who would cruise the suburbs looking for people putting leaves in bags. They would offer to haul off the full bags. They not only got the leaves, but free garbage bags as well. Most seemed to leave them in the bags and then spread as they were rototilling.
     
  10. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    I've got tons of leaves from oak and other trees. We blow and rake them onto tarps and drag them and dump them on the garden. Turn them in and let them rot. Shredding would be nice but i've got so many thee is no shredder that would work. I've also hauled truckloads from town to dump on my garden also.
     
  11. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

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    I just moved to this house so I'm making big piles of leaves where I want my garden to be next spring. I'm going to make two large raised beds about 4 x 12 ft each.

    I haven't gotten around to outlining the beds yet - I was going to use some old wood from pallets and concrete forms. But I do have some chicken fencing, I guess I could surround the leave piles with that right now until I can pick up the wood.
     
  12. ceresone

    ceresone Well-Known Member Supporter

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    lots of good ideas on soil, compost and mulch forum, on gardenweb.
     
  13. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    it's okay to let it lay...
     
  14. Pony

    Pony STILL not Alice Supporter

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    Oh, but you have to be careful -- that forum (like composting) is ADDICTIVE!!

    Next thing you know, you'll be cruising the streets, looking for bags of compostable materials at the curb. You'll be stopping at the horse stables, begging a few buckets (or bucket loaders) full of manure. You'll get a gleam in your eye at the idea of bunny poop...

    A composter's life is strange. Happy, but strange. ;)

    Pony!
     
  15. Qwispea

    Qwispea Well-Known Member

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    I've never taken anybody else's tossed out leaves or grass clippings..although I've often been tempted.

    Does anyone know about the risks of bringing in other people's parasites or lawn/tree diseases that might harm the compost or garden?
     
  16. Pony

    Pony STILL not Alice Supporter

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    Either my blissful ignorance is in denial, but after 3 years of curbside gleanings, I've not noted any problems aside from the occasional pop can or other "regular" garbage someone tossed into their lawn refuse bags.

    I've never noticed a difference in my compost or garden, and I really don't fret overmuch about chemicals someone used in their lawn, figuring they've probably gone down into the aquifer. Not that I think that's good, but I figure that whatever is in the grass clippings or leaves is probably okay.

    Pony!