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Leaf mould...sort of?

My honeys Grandma has HUGE piles of leaves on her property. Some have been sitting since fall, some for years. Mostly oak leaves but also some maple, ash, etc. She said I'm more than welcome to take some of them for whatever.
Can this be used as mulch regardless of age? Do some plants not like it? I was thinking of using a combo of leaves/leaf mould and grass right on the dirt then adding straw/chopped corn bedding since my new garden where we're moving is pretty large and it can REALLY windy up on that hill....

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I thought in terms of using leaves as mulch, the older the better? As there would be a lot of rich, decomposed organic matter underneath.

Everything organic eventually breaks down and turns into decomposed matter anyway.. so I don't see why there would be a problem using the 'newer' leaves as mulch, and the older leaf litter as some form of green manure (mixed in with whatever form of fertiliser you choose).

Packing it down with straw etc. may work as well if you don't want the leaves to blow away.

The only 'rule' seems to be when mulching around trees (with anything, not just old leaves) don't let it touch the actual trunks as this may lead to collar rot.

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IMO, leaf mould is priceless for a garden bed. Get as much as you can. Use some as mulch, add some to your compost. :)

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The worms love it. Use old leaves in your garden beds and the bed will soon be rich with worms and their castings. The best compost ever.

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I'm with kisal, leaf mould is some of if not the best of the best of mulches.

Farmer Joyce Beggs
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You can add those leaves to the list of farmer gold.

They are really good for your plants and the soil.[Farmer Gold][/quote]

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Recognisable leaves from last (or past) years will finish their transition to humus in a garden faster if spread out.

If it was my garden I'd use the more recognisable leaves as mulch and the more decomposed leaf mold mixed in with garden soil.

Sifting can be done. It is a ton of work for me. But it does make for prettier presentation in pots or places where your esthetic demands it.

Um, seedling or germinating pans comes to mind as a place where smaller particle size is more than simply beauty-in-the-eye of the beholder.

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If you push aside the whole leaves and recognizable leaves, you will find compost/leaf mould and most likely tons of earthworms. This is the stuff you want to use for your garden. If grandma is only using this area for leaf piles, scrape down to the subsoil -- GREAT rich topsoil under the compost. Put the leaf piles back on the subsoil to work their magic for another year or two.

From your description, I think you'll get plenty without using the undecomposed stuff in your garden beds.

For mulch, bag the dry leaves, dump them at home and run your (not mulching) lawn mower over them to chop them up. Voilà! Mulch. :D They don't blow away as much when chopped up and wetted down. I think mixed with grass clippings, moistened alfalfa pellets/alfalfa meal, and/or coffee grounds would be better, but not strictly necessary.

If you have more leaves, make compost pile(s) out of them, mixed with grass, weeds, and kitchen scraps.

IMHO, corncob bedding is too much brown. They also tend to get that black mold on them.

If you are making sheet mulched/lasagna-type beds, any of the material you mentioned would be a great addition. It sounds like you'd want a bit more GREEN in there though -- more grass/weeds, alfalfa pellets, hay, manure, unfinished compost, etc.

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I believe I've read that with leaves, the only thing to be aware of is that very fresh leaves contain a growth inhibiting substance (?enzyme?). This degrades fairly quickly (like within a couple months).

Certain leaves are problematic, walnut leaves coming most readily to mind. "This is because of the juglone toxin produced by the trees and present throughout the tree. In the past, many recommended not using walnut leaves in compost, but that thinking has changed in recent years, and you do not need to worry about how composting walnut leaves might affect your plants anymore.

The evolutionary reason is - these leaves suppress competing species at the base of the tree. So, these leaves need to be well broken down before adding to your garden.

Another quote from https://www.the-compost-gardener.com/composting-leaves.html "According to Ken Thompson, author of Compost (whose book I love for its straight forward info and humor), these are useful categories to use when composting leaves.
•Good Leaves - those lower in lignin and higher is calcium and nitrogen - includes ash, cherry, elm, linden, maple, poplar and willow. Break down in about a year.
•Bad Leaves - those higher in lignin and lower in nitrogen and calcium - includes beech, birch, hornbeam, oak, and sweet chestnut. I would also add magnolia and holly to this list. Need two or more years usually to breakdown.
For those who don't know the names of your trees or whose trees are not on the list here is a rule of thumb that may work for you.•Green Leaves - some trees shed green leaves. These can be added in moderate amounts.
•Red or Yellow Leaves - These can be used in small amounts.
•Brown Leaves - Should be avoided but are good for leaf mold.
A last Caution- avoid the leaves of black walnut and eucalyptus tree leaves. These plants have natural herbicides that prevent seed from germinating."

So, yes, leaves are awesome - and sounds like your grandma's trees are fine - just thought I'd clarify for others who might be contemplating.

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Well, I use fall leaves for the main "brown" in my compost pile. They are mixed collections, because I pick up people's yard waste bags of leaves that they set out at the curb, so I get them from different places, even different neighborhoods. By the time I put them in my compost pile, they are pretty much all brown, regardless of what color they were when they fell. Works fine for me and they all break down nicely in my pile.

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