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Which leaves should be avoided when mulching?

Which leaves should be avoided when mulching?

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  #1  
Old 10-31-02, 05:36 PM
avivasherman
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Question Which leaves should be avoided when mulching?

I would like to mulch my garden with leaves this year. I want to leave the leaves on the garden in the spring and I want to be sure that they are good for the garden. I am aware that some leaves can actually do harm. Does anyone have the definitive answer on this? Thank you... Aviva Sherman
 
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  #2  
Old 11-01-02, 04:56 PM
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Question Leaves pose possible DANGER!

Hi avivasherman

I have to say that If I use leaves at all, it is for compost only & not for mulch. Only after reading this article I may haul them away from now on.

The best way to cover and enrich your soil over Winter is, with a living cover crop. I use Austrian Winter peas, some use winter wheat etc, your local farm supply will have quite a few choices of cover crop seeds.

Using leaves comes under, don't leave dead & decaying plant matter on your garden soil over winter. A clean cover crop planted garden, will provide you with less problems next Spring. Please read the article that I have linked below.

Everyone who uses leaves should read this!

http://www.princeton.edu/pr/news/02/q1/0218-mulch.htm

Marturo
 

Last edited by marturo; 11-01-02 at 06:49 PM.
  #3  
Old 11-01-02, 07:16 PM
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avivasherman,

I agree with Marturo, the leaves are better off in the compost heap. And it's probably even better to chop them up first.
When I got my Troy-Bilt back in the 70's, I used to till all my neighbors' gardens. Well, one year a good friend had piled leaves on his garden a bit too thick. Even a "Horse" wouldn't till through all the leaves and mud. I was planting early crops and my neighbor had to wait over two weeks for his garden to dry out.

fred
 
  #4  
Old 11-03-02, 08:23 AM
avivasherman
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Appreciate your replies but....

Thank you both for your replies. I appreciate the article on the potential toxicity of decaying leaves and I also appreciate the information that my garden may suffer from too much moisture in the spring.

In regard the the article on the poisonous potential of these leaves. My intuition tells me that this is not natures plan. I believe that this researcher actually found these poisons in the leaves but I am not convinced that nature does not have a way of taking care of this problem...as is mentioned in the article.

The garden bed that I am referring to is a large flower bed. Last season I used leaves without shredding to cover the bed. My goal was protection from the cold. In the spring I pulled the leaves off easily and added them to the compost pile. My bed did not suffer from any undue moisture and everything grew prolifically throughout the season.

I have a couple of friends with gorgeous gardens who use this method.

My main concern about leaves is the type of tree from which the leaves come. It is my understanding that whether as compost or mulch there are certain leaves that are either too acid.....or some similar problem...which may upset the balance of my soil.

Is anyone familiar with which types of tree leaves should never be used in compost or mulch.

Thank you,

Aviva
 

Last edited by marturo; 11-03-02 at 03:27 PM.
  #5  
Old 11-03-02, 03:21 PM
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Smile The more info you give the better answers you will get.

avivasherman said:
The garden bed that I am referring to is a large flower bed. Last season I used leaves without shredding to cover the bed. My goal was protection from the cold. In the spring I pulled the leaves off easily and added them to the compost pile. My bed did not suffer from any undue moisture and everything grew prolifically throughout the season.

I have a couple of friends with gorgeous gardens who use this method.

My main concern about leaves is the type of tree from which the leaves come. It is my understanding that whether as compost or mulch there are certain leaves that are either too acid.....or some similar problem...which may upset the balance of my soil.
___________________________________________________

Please excuse me if I don't understand after your last post. Just what you are concerned about? If you were having problems with your plants, you don't mention it. Quite the opposite in fact.

It's not that many trees that you must wach out for. The nut trees, the Oaks, the Evergreens, contain Tanic Acid, Jugalone & Caprylic Acid. Most all the Acids can be neutralized with lime. However Jugalone & Caprylic Acid, can take up to 3 years to leach out of the soil even if well composted, they are found in nut tree leaves.

I believe the first misunderstanding came, when you did not say you were just using the leaves as a winter cover mulch. Many Gardeners think right away when you say Garden, that you mean a Till & plant Garden like a Vegetable Garden. The more information you can give us when posting, sure can help get a much better answer for you.

At your first post you said you were going to leave the leaves in the garden & in your 2nd post you said you remove the leaves, & compost them in the Spring. We can only go by what you say, since we are not there. I believe posters are given 2000 letters & numbers to post, so please use as many as you need, to help us to get your questions right.



I found some very good reading, under the search term (wrong leaves mulch) @ http://www.google.com

Thank you,
Marturo
 
  #6  
Old 11-03-02, 05:10 PM
tennessee
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leaves

do not use walnut leaves they are toxic in garden. i had a problem with them. still have plant problem where they were used
 
  #7  
Old 11-03-02, 05:53 PM
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Smile American Black Walnut tree leaves & husks.

Hi tennessee,

I cut down a big Walnut & could not even grow grass there. Give this a try, it may work for you as well as it did for me. Now I can grow Peach trees there and grass.

Get a 25 or 50 # bag of white sugar & toss it in that area every 2 weeks for up to 6 months. Winter or summer As long as it gets rained in or watered with the hose. Don't over do, just take a handful & toss it around, say 5# each time.

I was surprised to see the grass come back it seems that the sugar speeds up the bactieria, that break down the Jugalone & Caprylic Acid that is stunting your plants. All nut trees have this, but the Black Walnut is King of the bunch.

Good luck, it's no fun to have a spot that won't grow anything.

Marturo
 
  #8  
Old 11-14-02, 09:09 AM
northgardengal
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Hi Marturo!

It's probably obvious I'm on a "DIY Posting Fest" today

I've been meaning to ask a question of you since I read this post.

You said:

"Using leaves comes under, don't leave dead & decaying plant matter on your garden soil over winter. .. "

I see that you said "on" the garden, so I'm hoping this doesn't include tilling in plant material. I totally removed any plant matter (roots and all) that I either suspected or knew had some sort of pest related problem and tilled the remaining healthy-but-dying-back stuff into the soil. Then planted the green cover crop a couple of weeks later.

I hope I haven't created problems for my little garden

Don't ask me why I didn't consult you before doing any of this....I relied on what I thought was common sense.

Also, and I am asking for a friend: What's the best and quickest way to deal with a garden which was neglected late in the growing season. The weeds are two feet high now (arg!) and he is thinking of just "burning off" the garden at this rate. Is this the best bet? I shudder to think of doing this as I would think it kills EVERYTHING, good and bad. Any ideas? The garden is 30' x 40'. It was well maintained for 3 years and unfortunately this year, my friend had so many personal things going on, it went untended for too long.

Thanks for your help again....

Liz
 
  #9  
Old 11-14-02, 05:07 PM
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Smile Right on the money

Hi Liz,


Liz Said:I see that you said "on" the garden, so I'm hoping this doesn't include tilling in plant material. I totally removed any plant matter (roots and all) that I either suspected or knew had some sort of pest related problem and tilled the remaining healthy-but-dying-back stuff into the soil. Then planted the green cover crop a couple of weeks later.

Liz I'm sure you have seen gardens that skeletons of plants hanging with rotten fruit & grass clippings in piles about the surface. This is what I was refering to when I said we don't leave garden waste laying about. Left over winter like this that garden will be a sick garden next season.

Tilling & planting a cover crop will kill so many bad bug eggs and prevent bad areobic Bactieria, from making our new seasons plant's prone to illness. You did just what I do, with the exception of Grape, Raspbery canes & tree limbs & all that is burned. So you did good

Now speaking of burning In the case you tell of the wild Garden, burning is the best way to kill weed seeds & fungi that sits upon the Garden. So with hoses ready & a pile of limbs & garden waste in the center Burn it up. Till & plant winter Peas as a cover crop then till & use plenty of mulch next season.

If you have a small garden, you will find many friends who will save their news papers for you over winter. Then next season buy good clean wheat straw & mulch right up to the plants or leave a 2 inch wide unmulched strip for seed. This will allow the busiest gardener to cut down on 2 time consuming jobs, Weeding & watering. Even colored newspapper is just Kelp ink, don't use the shiny papers.

Tilling garden material into the soil over Winter has been called sheet composting, & has been used for many centuries with good sucess. Cover crops came about due to soil wash off in winter rains. Legumes (Beans & Peas ) make the type of cover crop that builds Nitrogen back into the soil while Rye/Wheat Winter cover well, but eat up your Nitrogen.

I hope that helps you Liz.
 
  #10  
Old 11-21-02, 09:56 AM
northgardengal
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Hi Marturo

I read your reply very soon after you posted, but I didn't have time then to thank you!

THANK YOU! As has always been the case, your input was very helpful to me. And I let my friend know he is on the right track by burning off his garden.

It feels good, too, that my instincts are starting to serve me well, as far as my little garden goes. A lot of encouragement and a little common sense go a long way for me!

It dawned on me (and cheered me up considerably) that the next growing season isn't that far away. It will be even closer if we get a greenhouse built. We've gotten a bunch of 6-over-6 windows, and three sets of sliding glass doors - all free - to use for a greenhouse structure. By the time we come up with a viable design, and get it built, it will be time to get going on seed starting, etc.

In case I don't get back on here in the next week, I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!

Liz
 
  #11  
Old 11-21-02, 10:10 AM
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Smile Garden fever

Hi Liz,

Thanks for your kind words

When we start itching for those multi colored Garden catalogs, it is a sure sign we are hooked

Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours Liz.

Marturo
 
  #12  
Old 11-22-02, 04:28 PM
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Using leaves as mulch

Using Leaves to Improve Your Garden

From "Garden Laws" Episode DIG-109











A combination lawn vacuums/leaf shredder is an excellent tool to help harvest the bounty of leaves in your garden.


Figure A



Leaves are a fact of life in the garden. Although they may seem to be a problem in fall, leaves can be a treasure if put to good use. Paul James, the host of HGTV's Gardening by the Yard, gives some tips on harvesting what nature so generously provides.

Unfortunately, many gardeners perceive leaves as trash and can't wait to get rid of them. Far from it: leaves can be turned into an excellent soil amendment or mulch.

A number of cities across the country have banned the curbside disposal of leaves and grass clippings, and you can bet your begonias that more cities will follow suit. You may as well get accustomed to using leaves to improve your lawn and garden.

Pound for pound, leaves can probably do more to improve your lawn and garden than any store-bought product. They're an excellent source of organic matter for improving soils of all kinds; a remedy for drainage problems in heavy clay soils or loose sandy soils; a source of nutrients, especially micronutrients that are rarely found in commercial fertilizers; a dynamite mulching material; and one of the earthworm's favorite food sources. And if that's not enough, leaves are free!

Here's how to use leaves in the lawn and garden. For starters, if you don't want to bother with raking, buy a good mulching mower and mulch the leaves into your lawn. This practice, combined with regular grass-cycling (mulching the grass clippings each time you mow), will lead to a healthier, better-looking lawn in only one season. But if you want to use leaves as a soil amendment or mulch, it's best to shred them first because they'll rot faster and without compacting.

Here are three ways to shred leaves:

Using a mower equipped with a grass catcher, simply run over the leaves. Most mowers will shred the leaves somewhat, and you can then dump them onto your compost pile or directly into your garden. Admittedly, this approach can be time-consuming, but it works. In fact, you can make a great compost pile out of nothing but leaves. Just pile them up, preferably in some sort of simple enclosure so the wind won't scatter them back into your yard, add a cup or two of blood meal or cottonseed meal and a blast of water from the hose to get the pile cooking, and let nature take care of the rest.

The most efficient method is to vacuum the leaves using a combination leaf blower/leaf sucker or a fancy lawn vacuum/leaf shredder. A leaf blower/leaf sucker sells for less than $200 and in a few minutes can be converted from a conventional blower to a sucker. It not only sucks up the leaves but also shreds them. In fact, it can reduce the volume of 10 trash bags of whole leaves to one bag of shredded leaves.

A fancier -- and pricier -- tool is the lawn vacuum. Many models come with a built-in chipper for converting small-diameter prunings into wood chips. Starting at around $400, these machines suck the leaves from the ground, shred them into fine particles and deposit them into an easy-to-remove bag.
Once you've shredded your leaves, you can use them in several ways:

Dump them in the compost pile to rot.

Toss them in the garden, and work them gently into the top 6" of soil, where they'll quickly decompose.

Lay them directly on top of the garden, holding them in place with soil, where they'll serve double duty as a soil amendment and mulch.

Using a String Trimmer
You can shred leaves using a string trimmer. Place the leaves in a large container, such as a garbage can, and run the string trimmer inside the can until the leaves are shredded. Always wear eye protection when running a string trimmer.

Tip:

Another effective way to shred leaves for compost is to collect them in a bin or container, put on safety glasses, and then use a weed eater to shred them -- hand-held blender style (figure A).

DIY > Gardening and Landscaping > Episode DIG-109 > Using Leaves to Improve Your Garden
Using Leaves to Improve Your Garden

From "Garden Laws" Episode DIG-109

Gardening & Landscaping.
diynet.com. Retrieved 22 November 2002. http://www.diynet.com/DIY/article/0,2058,1885,00.html
 
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