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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.

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Old March 28, 2007   #1
Tomstrees
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Default Fall leaves vs. manure:

Hey every, hope all is well.

I recently read that if you over-turn your garden in the fall with fallen leaves in all stages of decompostion, the nutrients released are better than animal manure.

Is this true?

I've been doing this every year - emptying my entire compost bin into my garden every fall. Seems too easy > ?

~ Tom
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Old March 28, 2007   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomstrees View Post
Hey every, hope all is well.
I recently read that if you over-turn your garden in the fall with fallen leaves in all stages of decompostion, the nutrients released are better than animal manure.
Is this true?----
~ Tom
I would think also what the animal eats would be a factor.

dcarch
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Old March 28, 2007   #3
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I am no expert...but I love leaves. I was watching "Ask This Old House" and Roger the lawn guy noted that decomposed leaves...or "black gold" as he referred...was the best compost one could get.

I cover my beds each fall with chopped leaves. I have a hand held vaccum that chops the leaves up pretty good. If I want them to be very finely chopped...I put the leaves in a 32 gallon garbage can and then stick my string trimmer and let them have it...really does a great job of reducing the leaves to a fine mixture.
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Old March 28, 2007   #4
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------------- If I want them to be very finely chopped...I put the leaves in a 32 gallon garbage can and then stick my string trimmer and let them have it...really does a great job of reducing the leaves to a fine mixture.
That's a fantastic idea! It leaves (pun here )me with no choice but to run out and try it!
Can you post this idea in the "Tips, Tools & Techniques" Sticky?

dcarch
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Old March 28, 2007   #5
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I use both manure and leaves. I usually compost the horse manure for about six months. When I cut down the spring/summer garden, spread it and usually plant a cover crop if not planting a fall garden. I use shredded leaves as the mulch for my spring summer garden. I just add organic matter. It all seems to help.
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Old March 28, 2007   #6
Adenn1
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Originally Posted by dcarch View Post
That's a fantastic idea! It leaves (pun here )me with no choice but to run out and try it!
Can you post this idea in the "Tips, Tools & Techniques" Sticky?

dcarch

Dcarch:

Glad you like that method...I must admit that I got the idea from somewhere else...

I will gladly type somthing up for the TTT sticky.

I saw a lawn company at a neighbors today pulling out loads of leaves from the bushes around her house...I wish I had the time to stop and get them.
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Old March 29, 2007   #7
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This book I was reading states that uninterrupted fertilization is the best method to feed your plants.

Not like: feed them once - grow big -
Then they slow down -
The feed them again - & grow big again -
Then they slow down again - so on and so forth ...

If the leaves are at all different times of decompostition, they supply nutrition consistently and not spuratically therefore not interrupting growth during all stages of the plants development.

This is very important to me, as I grow my gardens strickly organic.
Its the only way I've been preparing my garden beds for years.

~ Tom
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Old April 1, 2007   #8
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I cover all my beds with leaves each fall and simply work them into the soil along with compost in the spring. This has helped to enrichen my soil and break up the clay. If anyone needs evidence of the benifits of leaf mulch simply lift up the leaves and observe all the worms underneath that are feeding off the leaves and depositing their residue in the earth.

BTW leaf mold is another wonderful additive to soil. It helps to break up hard soil and improve structure.

ALex
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Old April 1, 2007   #9
mresseguie
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Hi, Tom.

Absolutely! Leaves are a wonderful addition to your soil. If you introduce them in the fall, they have the winter/early spring to break down for spring planting. The worms really do love them, and we really do love the worms.

One thing to watch out for though-Walnut leaves. Walnut trees produce a chemical that acts like a poison to inhibit growth of <potential> competitors. I have chatted with another experienced gardener who unwittingly included walnut leaves a few falls ago. He's extra careful now to avoid a repeat incident.

Some people swear by the 'only leaves' ammendment; others swear by "only straw" (with cottonseed meal), and others swear by the "only manure". I fall into yet another camp-I'll add everything I can get my hands on. I add:

leaves
llama manure
steer manure
alfalfa
kelp meal
fish meal/extract
liquid seaweed
compost tea (made from worm castings)
green manure (Austrian field peas)
coffee grounds (hundreds of pounds)
grass clippings
kitchen scraps
fish waste rescued from the fish market's garbage cans (bass omatic)
used hops from a local micro-brewery
tea leaves from a local chai tea maker
lots of compost

There are probably more 'ingredients' but my mind wanders......
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Old April 2, 2007   #10
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I can't see how leaves are better than manure - they are different in chemical composition from each other. Leaves are basicly carbon and manure is basicly nitrogen. The best would be to add both to the soil in the fall NOT in the spring. Leaves require time to decompose and use nitrogen to do it so you could be locking up nitrogen at the time your plants require it. Manure is too hot to add in the spring as there is not enough time for it to break down. Rabbit and llama manure (to the best of my knowledge are the only ones) can safely be used fresh, unaged, actually straight from the animal without harming plants but don't try that with any other manure.
.
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Old April 2, 2007   #11
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Quote:
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I can't see how leaves are better than manure - --------
I don't know the answer, I don't even know if the question is valid:

The cow eats turf, extracts from the turf to make meat and bones and the leftover is manure. I would think that the manure is everything minus whatever it takes to make the cow.

On the other hand, don't you think that if leaves do not have to make the cow, it would have more stuff in them?

Where's the beef?

dcarch
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Old April 2, 2007   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjg911 View Post
I can't see how leaves are better than manure - they are different in chemical composition from each other. Leaves are basicly carbon and manure is basicly nitrogen. The best would be to add both to the soil in the fall NOT in the spring. Leaves require time to decompose and use nitrogen to do it so you could be locking up nitrogen at the time your plants require it. Manure is too hot to add in the spring as there is not enough time for it to break down. Rabbit and llama manure (to the best of my knowledge are the only ones) can safely be used fresh, unaged, actually straight from the animal without harming plants but don't try that with any other manure.
.
Tom
Hi, Tom.

You are correct in that leaves are high in carbon and require some nitrogen and/or worms, etc. to break down. Leaves also possess many micro-nutrients that are returned to the soil as the leaves break down. These nutrients create a wonderful mix for the roots of our veggies. Some of the richest soils have had leaves added to them year after year. In addition, the worms, that so love leaves, gift us with their amazing castings.

To my knowledge, piling leaves in the fall gives them 4 to 6 months to break down so that, by spring, their nutrients can be of use to the roots.

Horse and chicken manures are high in nitrogen, but steer/cow manure is actually fairly low in nitrogen. Okay. To be fair, newly 'created' cow poop is fairly high, but it need only sit for a short time to be used. Most animal poop is also high in P and K. So high is it that most of the plots in our community garden tested out as having enough P and K to last for 5 more years!

Just my humble opinion. My advice is free, and you get what you pay for it.

Have a great April.

Michael
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Old May 1, 2007   #13
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My Grandpa, who was a prime gardener in his day, always tilled the fall leaves into the garden and then as soon as the snow melted off enough for him to get at the dirt had at it with cow manure.

We've just recently bought a house and have not had time to acquire all those handy tools that apartment dwellers have no room for (like a saw), so I am trying the world's simplest "compost pile." Pile it up, water well, cover with big tarp held down with rocks/logs and let the sun cook it for a few months. Pretty it isn't, but the method is reported to make nice compost. We'll see along about August.
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Old May 1, 2007   #14
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Tom.... Brother...)))....mressiguie(Michael) told u...the Grandest Truth. Leaves come from.....the Plant or Tree's....deepest desire.

Leaves...when they fall, represent...ALL...of the goodness...a plant was capable of. The Plant...is Smarter than u or i...it Gives back...to its own self, naturally. Soil...is naturally benefited...its a Reciprocating relationship...)))

Food...we eat....its Taste...as well as its Value...to our bodies,...is a direct result....of HOW.....we give back...jus like a Plant does. Leaves ...are a Tree's way ...of givin back to itself...at the same time...Leaves are how...a tree...feeds its natural ambition to grow. Use them at will...to place available and beneficial...organic intake...to the Food...u try an Grow...)))


be on the short end of the Stick if thats all u can do...but Always...be a Reciprocator...)))...and...a Appreciator...)))
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Old May 3, 2007   #15
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After turning over my garden last week all of those leaves I added have turned to black gold ! Wow ~ this looks like the best round ever ...
So far my soil looks great ... I can't wait until "seaweed season" opens !

~ Tom
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