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Gary350
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8" of leaves tilled into my garden today.

I spent most of the day hauling leaves to the garden and tilling them in. I have done this in the past but most of the time it rains and the leaves and soil are wet so I can not do this every year. I am lucky this year it has not rained in 3 weeks but is suppose to rain tomorrow. I raked leaves and covered the 30' x 50' garden soil with 4 inches of leaves then tilled them in. I raked more leaves covered the soil with another 4" of leaves and tilled them in too. Walking across the garden is like walking across a bed mattress. When it rains I know it will soak up water like a giant sponge. In the spring the garden is usually a little wetter than I would like it but its not a big deal I might have to plant a couple weeks later than normal. My garden has a compost shortage it needs all the compost I can get. I also have a compost pile that I dump right in the tomatoe holes, bean rows, squash holes, etc. When I lived in town I use to get 3 to 5 truck loads of compacted leaves from the city every winter after 10 years of that the soil in my 50' x 100' garden looked like 10" of black gold. I am getting too old to work like I did when I was young now days I work all day and do what I could once do in a few hours work.

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Runningtrails
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Great going! That was a lot of work! I till leaves into my garden too. It is raining here now and suppose to keep raining all week, so it won't get done anytime soon. I usually drive around with the truck and fill the back with raked and bagged leaves at the roadside but hubby has to fix the breaks on the truck before I can do that this year :-(

I'm far too busy right now anyway but that's usually the case. I guess I can rake and use my own leaves if I have to. I have acres of leaves. I just don't like to rake...

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rainbowgardener
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No wonder you need so much compost. Leaves are very high in carbon, low in nitrogen. By incorporating them into your soil like that, you will actually be drawing nitrogen from the soil to help break them down. They add a lot of humus making a very nice texture, but then you have to add all the nitrogen back in.

If you slowed down on the amount of high carbon materials you are adding to your soil, you could probably slow down on the amount of nitrogen you have to keep adding back in.
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Rainbow's probably right about that. As HG likes to say, veggies like the soil on the bacterial side, and all the leaf mold will likely result in forest duff/fungal soil.

Maybe adding some Alfalfa meal/pellets or some kind of weed seed free manure this fall or growing a winter covercrop to be incorporated in spring will help balance things a bit.

I need to get my act together and gather up some leaves too! :()

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Yup! I brought home 3 bags yesterday and I'm about to go get more!
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Runningtrails
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Up until this past spring, I had 20 chickens, so I have had lots of chicken manure to add to the gardens, along with the leaves. There's a horse farm just a stone's throw form us also, where we can get manure. Lots of old manure with fall leaves makes a great garden.

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my soil loves to eat the fall leaves also, its ok. by spring its all nice and rich ready for planting.

rainbow - it will draw N but its not going anywhere, when the leaves reach a balanced decomposition a lot more organic matter and nutrients will be available to the plant than before. and imo its long term organic matter, not like manure which is depleted or leeched away faster.
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farmerlon
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Runningtrails wrote:... I guess I can rake and use my own leaves if I have to. I have acres of leaves. I just don't like to rake...
I have a "lawn sweeper" that you can pull behind a tractor or riding lawn mower.
similar to this one...
[url]https://www.brinly.com/lawn-care-products/sweepers/[/url]

For gathering leaves and/or grass clippings from the yard, I highly recommend that type of attachement. It allows you to gather a large amount of material with minimal effort, and saves a huge amount of time.

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Gary350
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farmerlon wrote:
Runningtrails wrote:... I guess I can rake and use my own leaves if I have to. I have acres of leaves. I just don't like to rake...
I have a "lawn sweeper" that you can pull behind a tractor or riding lawn mower.
similar to this one...
[url]https://www.brinly.com/lawn-care-products/sweepers/[/url]

For gathering leaves and/or grass clippings from the yard, I highly recommend that type of attachement. It allows you to gather a large amount of material with minimal effort, and saves a huge amount of time.
A lawn sweeper would be nice but I need something to pull it with. I have no riding mower. Can I pull that with a bicycle?

I got fat and lazy using a riding mower so I sold it. Now I have a push mower. I think using a riding mower and growing a garden to be health is like eating a Hostess Twinkie with a Diet Coke. One cancels the other.

I have enough leaves to full 2 large dump trucks. The sweeper might make things easier but then I would need a place to keep that thing until next time I needed to use it again. I will check out those sweepers next time I am at home depot if it can be pulled with a bicycle I might buy one next year.

[img]https://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e358/gary350/bike-mower-11.jpg[/img]

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Nice mower Gary! :lol:

Yep, if we are adding leaves we need to balance it some. But remember, the further we go from the roots, the less carbon intensive the tree becomes. The roots are highly carbon intensive, the trunk is still pretty solid, the limbs are a little less, the branches less so, and the twigs are half of what a root is. By the time we get to leaves they are not a lot more carbon intense than grass...

But they are some...

So RT's chicken poop is just the thing. I'd slurry it and water the garden after tilling (for those who insist on tilling). Gary's tilling is the only thing keeping his garden from becoming fungally dominated; he's chopping up the mycelium before they can run. This is likely his saving grace to date, and the reason why his leaves dissappear so fast (he does have some bacterial composting still going on).

But I don't think you can pull this off forever without some more bacterial inputs, Gary...

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Gary350
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I know where I can get several pickup truck loads of rabbit manure. Its a long drive and a lot of work to load the truck by hand then unload and spread it on the garden. I can usually do 1 load a day. In the past adding nitrogen made a big difference in the composting of the leaves. In the past I did 2 pickup truck loads of rabbit manure it is not much, wish I could get a LARGE dump truck load of manure. The garden should have a very large quantity of worms by spring. I will plant a winter cover crop too, a mixture of peas, swiss chard, kale, turnip greens.

[img]https://images.craigslist.org/3k23m53l65V35X05R6aabe7e21f113e6416e3.jpg[/img]
Last edited by Gary350 on Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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farmerlon
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Gary350 wrote: A lawn sweeper would be nice but I need something to pull it with. I have no riding mower. Can I pull that with a bicycle?
Maybe... I am imaging that it would be quite a workout, but I think it could be done. The sweeper that I have does not weigh a lot; but, it does get heavier as it picks up the leaves/grass.

Personally, I would just stick with a handheld rake, if I didn't have anything motorized to tow the sweeper.

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My friend [url=https://plantscapesorganics.com/]Mike Nadeau[/url], one of the smartest green gardeners around, just mulches his leaves in place with a mulching mower; a spritz of compower, and backraking to work the mix of grass and leaves down past the crowns of the turf to the thatch layer and yer done.

Think of it as sheet composting in your turf. Greens and brown mixed already. Food for your turf; a spritz of compost tea and we are fall feeding, soil building, dethatching, and with a quick spritz of seed before you backrake, you can really do some turf building.

And a lot less work than collecting them. But Gary does use his dutifully in his garden; the soil must be much improved. As long as they are not wasted; I goggle in disbelief at bags of leaves treated as garbage. What ever are they thinking?

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farmerlon
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Yes, for the lawn, I would also "compost in place".

When using the Sweeper, I am doing that to transfer excess leaves to the compost pile, which gets used in the veggie garden.
I know you can use finished compost on the lawn too; but, for now, the garden eats up all the compost that I can produce.

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Gary350
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I have a mulching blade for the lawn mower. It turns all the leaves to powder and returned them to the yard. There is nothing to put in the garden. I can not get the mower to blow out much of anything it all goes down into the grass. I would love to have a mulching mower that would blow it to the garden or a pile or a container.

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Sure you could bag, Gary, but then there is the extra effort of hauling, turning, etc.

Instead you are adding all the nutrition your lawn needs in the same process as mowing, and more besides. Think of it as mowing, thatching, aerating and fertilizing all in the single act. I think you are acting in the most efficient manner possible already...

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My Bantam chicken flock does a great job of tilling - either in place in the garden where they mix the soil up with leaves, getting tons of nutrition from earthworms and other critters, or I put the bags and bags of leaves in the chicken pen for the winter - more labour intensive this way but it gives the birds something to do on those boring winter days - happy hens lay lots of eggs!
I goggle in disbelief at bags of leaves treated as garbage. What ever are they thinking?
It's true - leaves and grass clippings!
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Gary350
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This has been an excellent year for collecting leaves for the garden and compost piles it still has not rained. I have filled all 3 compost piles with leaves. I tried to compact them so I could get in more leaves. Today I watered all 3 piles it helped compact a little but I still have more leaves and my compost piles are all full.

Weather man says rain starting tomorrow for the next 4 days.
Last edited by Gary350 on Sat Nov 13, 2010 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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farmerlon
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I have found that a layer (about an inch) of soil on top of the leaves is good. That helps to keep the leaves at the top from drying out and blowing away; and also gives just enough weight on top to make the leaves compress a little bit faster.
I have been filling my bins to the top, putting the soil on, watering; and then coming back a few days later to "top off" the bins with more leaves (and repeat). :)

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Gary350
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farmerlon wrote:I have found that a layer (about an inch) of soil on top of the leaves is good. That helps to keep the leaves at the top from drying out and blowing away; and also gives just enough weight on top to make the leaves compress a little bit faster.
I have been filling my bins to the top, putting the soil on, watering; and then coming back a few days later to "top off" the bins with more leaves (and repeat). :)
That is a good plan I do that too. I read there are enzymes and things in the soil that the compost needs it makes it compost better. I usually just sprinkle a small layer of soil on the top to provide the necesary enzymes it is not enough to provide much weight. I want rain water and air to flow down into the compost.
Last edited by Gary350 on Sat Nov 13, 2010 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tain't enzymes, G, it's critters!

Sure there ARE some enzymes and a weak acid response that etches mineral content from the parent material, but these are products of our microbiology...

Increasing biodiversity is not just for rainforests anymore. If you want good compost you need to do it there too!

HG
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My leaf compost done in black garbage bags with plenty of ventilation holes does best when I add "what makes snow yellow ",speeds it up by a couple of months !
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