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Grey
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Hey Opa, I was referring to your post before mine, where you were defending that your post fit with the thread topic. I was just backing you up. ;)

My plants are doing fine so long as they are in pots - still experimenting with the soil (ahem -- CLAY) here. I've found the easiest thing to break it up with is mostly decomposed wood chippings. It should decompose the rest of the way pretty quick with as much moisture as clay holds in it. In the meantime I'm adding nitrogen (commercial for now - not my fave but until I have my compost up and running, I think I am stuck. For now.)

I'm thinking of putting up a sign this fall asking people for their leaves. We need mulch and compost really badly, and I have a good place for a giant mountain of leaves to sit for the winter, or even, chopped, I can use as mulch around beds. Some plants will need to be tucked in for the winter.

We have so much work to do...

opabinia51
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Yes, work is the organic gardener's life. But, I personally really enjoy doing all the work.

I personally have access to tonnes and tonnes of leaves (Apple, Cherry, Maple....). Hence the reason whey I started this thread. Last year I made a liitle pile of mulched up leaves for leaf mold but, the plan for this year is to do the lasagna gardening as usual, plus my compost pile but, to have a huge pile of mulched up leaves in the same spot where I did my leaf mold pile last year.

I have found (through the advice of the Pres of my Organic Gardening club :wink: ) that running over the leaves with the lawn mower really does a great job of mulching them up. Then, I just cover them up for the fall and Winter with some plastic to keep the excess rain out.

Also, if you have a lawn of any appreciable size; those clippings make great mulch for your beds as well. Good luck gardening Grey!!!!

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My "lawn" is all weeds. :(

I'm fighting years of neglect and abuse. The last folks who lived here had their power turned off and had bonfires in the backyard every night (and cooked over the fire, too). They had their huge firepit too close to a younger oak tree, whose limbs on that side are completely singed from the heat.

Their 4-wheeler apparently also caught fire in the backyard.

Before them was a couple that rode their motorcycle around the house - around and around and around...

Right now the only leaves I have collected are magnolia. I plan to chop them up and use them as mulch - unless you tell me there's something in them that wouldn't do well for that!

opabinia51
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Wow..... I guess the only word would be..... YIKES!!! I guess you have a lot of work on your hands.

I have not heard anything bad about Magnolia Leaves. You might want to do a quick google search on them. Something to the tune of Magnolia leaves AND composting.
I would recommend going over them with the mower. And as long as I am talking about a mower; if your lawn mainly consists of weeds, so does mine :roll: (which, I plan on ammending) and mowing weeds is just fine so long as they haven't gone to seed. In fact, Dandelions are great for the soil.
Good luck with your huge gardening project.

Actually, I would recommend planting Rye and Vetch or Buckwheat over the lawn first. The two grasses will choke out the weeds (a little shoveling before hand will help as well. Or just a rotatiller) Also, the Rye and Vetch are dynamic accumulators and after successive mowings (while leaving the clippings on the ground) will add nutrients to the soil that your eventual monocrop of a lawn will love.

And Rye (and I'm guessing Buckwheat) make nice lawns in the interm. I personally plant Rye and Clover in my Veg Garden as cover crops.

Oh yes, and the organic matter from the cover crops will increase the permeability of the your clay soil. If you can get a bunch of them from your neighbours (canadian spelling :wink: ) mulched up leaves will be great for breaking up the clay in your yard. Just apply them directly to the infected soil but be sure to add some manure, coffee grinds or grass clippings to the leaves as well or the soil organisms will take Nitrogen from the soil to break down the leaves. Best to give them a supply of Nitrogen from the "GREENS."

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Rye is on my list to plant in early October as a cover crop, and then we were going to till it in with as much organic matter as we can get our hands on in the early Spring. From there my hubby will work on his grass ;).

I've been keeping the weeds mowed pretty tight (helps hide the fact they are weeds, at least from the road). If I let them get to where I think there may be seed, I put the bag on the mulching mower and dump 'em in a heap in the corner. I want them to sit there for a looooooong time so I know the seeds are dead. lol.

Now: all those wood ashes from years of bonfires: they heaped piles of ash in an overgrown area, and I say if not even ivy is willing to grow on them, it's going to take a lot to make that useable. As I understand wood ash, it's great in small doses but large quantities are something entirely different. Can I gradually scatter that all over the yard, or am I best off (since I really have no idea what they were burning) finding a way to dispose of them?

I'm doing a search on composed Magnolia leaves shortly - will post the results!

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Magnolia leaves are sturdy things and will take a good deal of time to break down I suspect. Scrounge lawn clippings from the neighbors (if they have lawns; you are NOT painting a pretty picture of your neighborhood between ATV fires and dirt tracking in the yard :shock: )

HG

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I like that icon Scott.

With the Magnolia leaves, I think if you go over them with the mower a few times to break them up to a fine mulch, they should be fine. I do that with Arbutus and Rhododendron leaves and they compost just fine.

With regard to wood ashes. I have always put the leftover ashes from my smoker into my worm bins and never had any problems. But, I have read that wood ashes can harbour diseases and be toxic to plants. You could bury most of them away from your garden and they won't cause any problems. And not to mention use small amounts in your trench compost.

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lol - Scott, we bought the worst house on the block! It was a rental, and the landlord wasn't so great at picking tenants. I have really great neighbors - with lawns and landscaping, no less! They were afraid to try to sell their homes for YEARS yet couldn't stand being near all that mess. They're very happy we've moved in and are fixing things up.

We are happy with the sale price - we've never had so tiny a mortgage - and that it came with the in-law suite (which is getting remodeled first, we'll move in there then work on the house)

It's okay if the magnolia leaves take a little while to compost, they'll look fine as a mulch and then I'll add grass and different leaves as fall comes in to play.

I'll bury those ashes then, Opa. :P My hubby had once read that potash was great for plants, and planted a couple of bushes right in the firepit at our old house. They died, of course. :cry:

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Yes, when you bury the ashes be sure to add some of your composting weeds to them such that everything will compost away nicely. Eventually,you may end up with some really nice soil there.

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Spread evenly over a large area the ash would be okay, just not in mass in a concentrated area where it would adjust the PH to unhealthy levels...

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Thanks for the tip Scott :D

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Yes soil, soil, soil. The great things that your soil can do for you if you work with it a bit.

Add as many leaves and mulched up leaves to your compost as you can. Maple leaves will hold between 300 and 500 percent more than their own mass of water.

If your soil is boosted by the addition of leaves (and some sort of greens to provide Nitrogen) it will reduce the amount of watering that you will need to do.
In fact, you many not even have to water at all because of the fact that not only will your soil hold the water, it will also hang on to the water. Deep sheet or lasagna composting is the answer.

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Carbon : Nitrogen Ratios of mulch and compost materials

Apple pomace: 21:1
Bonemeal: 3.4:1
Clover, flowering phase: 23:1
Clover, vegetative phae: 16:1
Compost, finished: 16:1
Corn stover: 60:1
Cottonseed meal: 5:1
Fish scraps: 4:1
Grain hulls and chaff: 80:1
Grass clippings, dry: 19:1
Grass clippings, fresh: 15:1
Hay, legume/grass mix: 25:1
Hay, mture alfalfa: 25:1
Hay, young alfalfa: 13:1
Leaves, dry: 50:1
Leaves, fresh: 30:1
Manure, chicken: 7:1
Manure, cow: 18:1
Manure, horse: 25:1
Manure, human: 8:1
Manure< rotted: 20:1
Newspaper: 800:1
Ryegrass, flowering phase: 37:1
Ryegrass, vegetative phase: 26:1
Sawdust, hardwood: 400:1
Sawdust, rotted: 200:1
Sawdust, softwood: 600:1
Seaweed: 19:1
Straw, oat: 74:1
Straw, wheat: 80:1
urine, human: 0.8:1
Vegetable Wastes: 12:1
Vetch, fresh hairy: 11:1

Useful for composting. Note that greens do not have a C/N ratio that is necessariyly less than one, just closer to one.

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So the lower the carbon to nitrogen ratio the more nutritive the compost?

(And i am NOT pooping in the compost tumbler :evil: )

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No, the lower the C:N ration means that there is relatively more Nitrogen to carbon. Doesn't necessarity mean that the particular ingredient is more nutritious for the plants.

It does however mean that if browns (high C:N ratio items) are not added that the compost will smell. (And that is not a good smell)

Oh and the human waste numbers are for those areas where the sludge from the sewer (sp?) is available. I know that a local commercial veg farm uses it here. I'm not a huge fan of it but, it's just a mind set. In Asia people have been using human wastes for thousands of years for fertilizer.

Heck, the area where my Dad's septic system is is definately the greenest :wink:
Last edited by opabinia51 on Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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I hear you on the waste issue; it's all mindset, really...

Thanks for thre clarification...

Scott

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Maple leaves: Calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphrorus, Nitrogen

Both sugar and red maple contain these nutrients but, sugar maples are higher in calcium and red maples are higher Magnesium.

Also note: Beech leaves have a pH or 5.08 which is somewhat acidic.

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I'll stick to cow and horse manure over human. Great ratios to know tho!

Oh and I have two sugar maple trees - great to know their info too!

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Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Nitrogen
American Beech: 0.99/0.22/0.65/0.10/0.67
White Ash: 2.37/0.27/0.54/0.15/0.63
White Oak: 1.36/0.24/0.52/0.13/0.65
E. Hemlock: 0.68/0.14/0.27/0.07/1.05
Balsam Fir: 1.12/0.16/0.12/0.09/1.25


Pound for pound, the leaves of most trees contain twice of many minerals as manure. Furthermore, the humus building qualities of leaves also means improved soil structure and increased water holding capacity.

When composting leaves a mixture of 5 parts leaves to one part manure will aid in the decompostion of the leaves. If manure is not available dried blood, cotton seed meal, bone meal and argrinite are other sources of nitrogen. Add two cups of blood meal or other natural Nitrogen supplement to one wheel barrel of leaves.

Be sure to turn your heap every 3 weeks at least. You can also simply spread the leaves over your garden and spread the greens (Nitrogen activators) over the leaves. No turning needed.

Also, for those who live in a wet climate (like I do) cover you leaf pile (and compost pile) with a plastic sheet to keep excess rain out. This will ensure that soluble nutrients are not leached from the pile

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A lot less soluables in compost compared to chemical though...

opabinia51
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And that is a good thing. With synthetics, all of the nutrients are water soluble and therefore, at the first rain, most of the nutrients are washed away.

Also, with synthetics, the plants have no way to regulate when they get and how much of a certain nutrient that they get. With humus, plants secrete small amounts of base to release nutrients from the humus. With synthetics, the plant all of the sudden gets a huge wash of nutrients causing it to grow uncontrollably

I have changed the word "ACID" to "BASE" in the previous paragraph because humus (amongst other lovely constituents) is slightly acidic due to the presence of HUMIC ACID. Sorry for any confusion
Last edited by opabinia51 on Fri Nov 25, 2005 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Linden Tree (Tilia americanus): Nitrogen, Calcium, Magnesium and
Potassium are contained in the
leaves.

I collect these lovely leaves off of my Universty campus. I'm happy to see that they are loaded with nutrients for the soil.

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Tilia americanus is known as basswood in these parts (Linden always refers to the European species that have been here for a few hundred years) Takes FAR more soggy conditions than the Euro types; often found right on a stream or pond...

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Yes, I came across the term Basswood while researching the leaf nutrient contents. The Head Gardener here at UVIC gave me the common name of Linden Tree and that made researching the nutrients of the (more likely basswood variety) a little touch and go. Though, according to my research they are both the same species.
Perhaps (and I am just speculating here) they may be designated as subspecies of eachother. But, they do both (or at least according to the article where I retrieved the data from) appear to have the same nutrient content in their leaves.

N Ca Mg and K

For people's information: Tiliaceae is the basswood family and the leaves are epiphytic. In other words the Tiliaceae grow in association with another species.

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Our city has planted hundreds of Lindens down our city streets and walkways. They are a very fast growing, low maintenance, but graceful tree.
Opa, I am not sure how you mean they are epiphytic? My understanding of a plant that is epiphytic is a plant which naturally grows upon another plant but does not derive any nourishment from it. How does this fit with this situation? :?
VAL
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

opabinia51
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I copied the phrase from the paper that I read. I believe that they are referring to the fact that the leaves grow on a plat that is itself an epiphyte. And from the definition that I know of epiphytic plants, the actual so called host; does not have to be another plant.

Hope that clerifies things for you.

(You may wish to rake up some of those leaves, that is what I have been doing around my campus. Great for the compost, and you don't have to go over them with the lawn mower.)

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Opa, in everything I have ever read regarding epiphytics it is used in the context of a plant living on another plant. The term stems from the Greek epi- (meaning 'upon') and phyton (meaning 'plant') and the definition given in the Merriam Webster Dictionary states "living on the surface of plants"
But anyway, I still don't understand how a Linden tree can be an epiphytic? I have only known them to be mosses, lichens, orchids, etc.
I'm confused - can you tell? :?
VAL
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

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Must admit to a bit of confusion here as well. My experience is mostly bromeliads and lichens here... :?

HG

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Well, I'll find the article again and get back to you on this topic. Sound like a plan?

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Sounds wonderful! 8)
VAL
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opabinia51
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Here are the layers in the sheet compost in my garden so far;

Fall Rye (turned into the soil)
Tilia (Linden Tree) Leaves
Horse Manure
Tilia (Linden Tree) Leaves and Apple Leaves
Coffee Grounds
Maple, cottonwood and Tilia (Linden Tree) Leaves
Seaweed (not totally covered yet)
Maple and Apple leaves
Chicken Manure in areas that I will not be planting corn and potatoes
Horse manure in the areas that I will be planting the corn, potatoes, squash and beans (The "Trinity" plus one)
Finally, I seeded the surface area of manure with a mix of Fall Rye, peas and Vetch. Then, I planted a 1 kg bag of FAVA beans. Next year, I'll do at least two of those bags, maybe four.

I also added a tonne of Maple leaves to my leaf mold pile yesterday. The hot compost pile that has now gone cold continues to recieve any weeds that I pull up (though, with all those layers of compostables; there aren't to many weeds) and any spent plants like the squash plants.

Last year, my sheet mulch was about a foot in height and this past spring there was only about an inch of compost left after 7 months of composting. My hope is that I will have more of the good stuff this spring.

The plan is to have the rest of the seaweed in this week and pile leaves on top of that and finally place chicken manure over the leaves in the non corn/potatoe area and horse manure in the corn/potatoe area (where squash and beans will be planted as well).
Atop all that good stuff I am going to plant fava beans and a seed mix of 70% Fall Rye, 20% Peas and 10% Vetch. That should be really good because the beans, peas and vetch are all Legumes and will be aiding nitrogen fixing bacteria in doing their magic.

And I will have nice buttery beans to eat next spring.

opabinia51
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So yes, put the rest of the seaweed on my garden Friday night and put the final layer of leaves and then all the manure (650 pounds of chicken manure and .... a lot of horse manure) atop the leaves yesterday.

The cover crop is planted and all I have to do now is continue adding leaves to my leaf mold pile and cold compost pile. Not to mention turn the two.

The big bonus of sheet composting is that you don't have to turn it and you also don't have to spread it in the spring.

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For peoples information, I had about a foot, maybe a bit less of soil when I turned the rye into the soil this past spring. My entire garden is growing like a weed.

I'm locking this thread for the time being as it is a bit long.

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