Tomatoville® Gardening Forums


Notices

A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old April 2, 2015   #1
Heyyou
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Kathleen, GA
Posts: 11
Default Composting live/laurel oak leaves

Has anyone had success composting live or laurel oak leaves?

I have a large pile of these (with more falling) collected over two years. It seems their waxy coating prevents them from composting rapidly.

I plan to do the following:
1. Mix in grass clippings as they become available this spring and
2. Try trench composting some (i.e. burying them in thin layers in trenches).

Would appreciate hearing your experiences (successes and failures) in trying to compost these leaves.
Heyyou is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 3, 2015   #2
Stvrob
Tomatovillian™
 
Stvrob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 1,413
Default

My compost is live oak, laurel oak and longleaf pine needles. I agree, they are tough to get started. I don't have any magic solution other than patience.
Stvrob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 3, 2015   #3
Redbaron
Tomatovillian™
 
Redbaron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 4,478
Default

Mix 50/50 with FRESH (still warm and wet) grass clippings works. Mixing with fresh manure works too.
__________________
Scott

AKA The Redbaron

"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."
Bill Mollison
co-founder of permaculture
Redbaron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 3, 2015   #4
rwsacto
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Sacramento CA
Posts: 288
Default

I give my live oak leaves to the county (green waste pick up) Every time I handle them, I get stuck by the sharp points, therefore I only handle them once.
rwsacto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 3, 2015   #5
Stvrob
Tomatovillian™
 
Stvrob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 1,413
Default

Keeping them moist is kinda a chore. The moisture doesnt penetrate them at all till you get a little fleck of mold starting to grow on the leaf. From that point, the waxy coating is breached and things go much more quickly. But that mold doesnt get started if they keep drying out.

I add them to my garden at a faster rate than I compost them. I just throw a bit of soil over the top with a garden spade to keep them from blowing away and just call it mulch instead of compost.
Stvrob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 3, 2015   #6
Redbaron
Tomatovillian™
 
Redbaron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 4,478
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stvrob View Post
Keeping them moist is kinda a chore. The moisture doesnt penetrate them at all till you get a little fleck of mold starting to grow on the leaf. From that point, the waxy coating is breached and things go much more quickly. But that mold doesnt get started if they keep drying out.

I add them to my garden at a faster rate than I compost them. I just throw a bit of soil over the top with a garden spade to keep them from blowing away and just call it mulch instead of compost.
That will work for sure. Here is another trick I actually am doing right now with my neighbors oak leaves. He had a pile that went through the whole winter and they look as fresh as the day they fell. So I "offered" to "help" him out yesterday. I have two of those large garbage cans. But I only need one for trash pick-up day. The spare I use for those sorts of leaves. Here is how. I take my bagging mower to the leaves. That chops and bags them. I put them in the garbage can. Then I "offered" to "help" him mow too. That gives me absolutely fresh grass clippings. (very extra tender green and hot in spring) I pile them on top of the brown oak leaves in the garbage can. Then I close the lid and let it ferment anaerobically. It actually smells like alcohol within one day. That filters down through the brown oak leaves and prepares them. (the alcohol actually removes the waxy coat from pine needles, oak leaves or anything like that and soaks them in moisture) I just checked this evening and sure enough, smells like a brewery and has dropped down by 1/2 already. In about a week or so I will empty the trash can into a wire compost bin and do a hot aerobic compost in the normal way.

It's a little trickier than the normal composting I do, but it can get stubborn things prepared so they "kick off" properly in my main compost piles. Just an idea you might try.

PS. No need to do this with maple leaves or other types of leaves, but the waxy hard to compost types it helps.
__________________
Scott

AKA The Redbaron

"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."
Bill Mollison
co-founder of permaculture
Redbaron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 3, 2015   #7
Stvrob
Tomatovillian™
 
Stvrob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 1,413
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redbaron View Post
That will work for sure. Here is another trick I actually am doing right now with my neighbors oak leaves. He had a pile that went through the whole winter and they look as fresh as the day they fell. So I "offered" to "help" him out yesterday. I have two of those large garbage cans. But I only need one for trash pick-up day. The spare I use for those sorts of leaves. Here is how. I take my bagging mower to the leaves. That chops and bags them. I put them in the garbage can. Then I "offered" to "help" him mow too. That gives me absolutely fresh grass clippings. (very extra tender green and hot in spring) I pile them on top of the brown oak leaves in the garbage can. Then I close the lid and let it ferment anaerobically. It actually smells like alcohol within one day. That filters down through the brown oak leaves and prepares them. (the alcohol actually removes the waxy coat from pine needles, oak leaves or anything like that and soaks them in moisture) I just checked this evening and sure enough, smells like a brewery and has dropped down by 1/2 already. In about a week or so I will empty the trash can into a wire compost bin and do a hot aerobic compost in the normal way.

It's a little trickier than the normal composting I do, but it can get stubborn things prepared so they "kick off" properly in my main compost piles. Just an idea you might try.

PS. No need to do this with maple leaves or other types of leaves, but the waxy hard to compost types it helps.
Thats a good idea!
Im gonna try that tomorrow
Stvrob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 4, 2015   #8
gregory
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: mobile zone 8
Posts: 83
Default

That's pretty much the majority of leaves that I get. I didn't have any problems just using fresh grass mixed in. Although I woukdnt use 50/50. The key is keeping it moist but not drenched, and turning it as much as possible. Keep the layers of grass no more then an inch thick and its best if u can shred the leaves. Manure works great as well and keep the layers thin and add 3-4 inches of leaves , and make it at the very least 3x3. It will be compost by the fall if not sooner depending how often u turn it and don't let it dry out.
__________________
Zone 8 Mobile AL
gregory is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 6, 2015   #9
Heyyou
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Kathleen, GA
Posts: 11
Default

Thanks for the comments everyone. My wife just pointed out that a 3 year old bag of leaves had composted (mostly anaerobically) until not long ago when the bag got punctured.

I like the garbage can idea Redbaron. For clarity, you don't add any water right? Just toss grass clippings on top and close the lid? Then in a week or two toss them into your regular compost pile?
Heyyou is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 7, 2015   #10
Redbaron
Tomatovillian™
 
Redbaron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 4,478
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heyyou View Post
Thanks for the comments everyone. My wife just pointed out that a 3 year old bag of leaves had composted (mostly anaerobically) until not long ago when the bag got punctured.

I like the garbage can idea Redbaron. For clarity, you don't add any water right? Just toss grass clippings on top and close the lid? Then in a week or two toss them into your regular compost pile?
Yes, no water. That is because absolutely fresh grass clipping have a lot of water, and the "drippings" will drain into the brown oak leaves. Grass clippings can get pretty slimy, especially the bottom layers. This way the slime wetness absorbs into chopped leaves. Then you would kinda mix and fluff before adding to your normal compost pile several days later. At that time of course you would add some water ... but only if needed. My normal compost pile has plenty of drainage though.
__________________
Scott

AKA The Redbaron

"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."
Bill Mollison
co-founder of permaculture
Redbaron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 9, 2015   #11
bughunter99
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: zone 5
Posts: 825
Default

Have you tried chopping them very fine? We pile all of our leaves in a massive pile in the driveway each fall and run the lawnmower repeatedly over them until they are very fine. It makes for a pretty mulch and a much faster decomposing leaf.

Our oaks are pin oaks. They still have the waxy surface but it is not as thick as your variety.
bughunter99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 13, 2015   #12
Heyyou
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Kathleen, GA
Posts: 11
Default

I collected them using the mower. The hickory and white oak leaves compost rapidly. However, these laurel leaves just linger and linger. I have some that are well over a year old that are barely composted. [Full disclosure, the leaves had almost no grass clippings or nitrogen until recently when I began adding fertilizer to them].

One use, which seems to annoy my wife, is using them as mulch in the flowerbed and around trees (she prefers to buy pine straw).
Heyyou is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 13, 2015   #13
Redbaron
Tomatovillian™
 
Redbaron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 4,478
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heyyou View Post
I collected them using the mower. The hickory and white oak leaves compost rapidly. However, these laurel leaves just linger and linger. I have some that are well over a year old that are barely composted. [Full disclosure, the leaves had almost no grass clippings or nitrogen until recently when I began adding fertilizer to them].

One use, which seems to annoy my wife, is using them as mulch in the flowerbed and around trees (she prefers to buy pine straw).
How did that strategy work out for you? Just for comparison, mine are already one quarter their original size in bulk and well on their way to good compost..and I started a new batch 2 days ago. Prepping the new batch again in the same garbage can.
__________________
Scott

AKA The Redbaron

"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."
Bill Mollison
co-founder of permaculture
Redbaron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 13, 2015   #14
Heyyou
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Kathleen, GA
Posts: 11
Default

I now have two piles. One has grass mixed in and the other is the old pile with little grass. The fertilizer seems to have helped marginally but it is still glacially slow. I plan to try your approach as soon as I need to cut my lawn again.
Heyyou is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 16, 2015   #15
Keiththibodeaux
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 581
Default

They are far more effective as a mulch, where in time they will compost themselves while keeping down the weeds. At the end of the season, I till what is left into the soil. Next spring, perfection, and start the cycle all over.
Keiththibodeaux is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:35 AM.


★ Tomatoville® is a registered trademark of Commerce Holdings, LLC ★ All Content ©2017 Commerce Holdings, LLC ★