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Pulverized leaves as fertilizer helper...


Externet
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Greetings.

Is adding dry, pulverized-to-dust leaves a decent, beneficial way to fertilize soil for growing the same/other species that yielded those leaves ?

Is there a non-industrial (not costly as for personal yard use) method to mill leaves to powder by converting/repurposing existing household appliances ?  -Perhaps a clever modification for a discarded clothesdryer machine, a blender, a ...-  A few cubic metres of leaves once or twice a year should do it.

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19 minutes ago, Externet said:

Greetings.

Is adding dry, pulverized-to-dust leaves a decent, beneficial way to fertilize soil for growing the same/other species that yielded those leaves ?

Is there a non-industrial (not costly as for personal yard use) method to mill leaves to powder by converting/repurposing existing household appliances ?  -Perhaps a clever modification for a discarded clothesdryer machine, a blender, a ...-  A few cubic metres of leaves once or twice a year should do it.

Why don't you just pile them in a nice heap and let them rot down ?

Mine go into the compost in layers at this time of the year, replacing the grass cuttings from earlier months.

The layering method is useful to separate too much kitchen peelings etc.

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I have perhaps 20 very large trees in my yard, mostly oak and maple. That yields a LOT of leaves each year. I pick them up with the lawnmower and deposit them in the garden, on planting beds, around landscaping, etc. The maple leaves tend to pulverize while the oak leaves just seem to be cut down to size. 

This year all of my leaves will make it to these locations and I will not have any left over to put on my compost pile. They are an excellent cover to keep down weeds, provide a lot of organic material to the soil, and also provide plenty of nutrients. All for nearly free. Because the leaves have been cut up they don't fly around unless put on a high spot that has nothing growing in it to catch the leaves. By the next year the leaves are all gone and I get to start over with fresh leaves.

In past years I have put leaves on the driveway and run over them multiple times with the lawnmower until the were sufficiently broken down.

If they didn't think I was nuts I'd probably go collect leaves and pine needles from my neighbors.

On a side note, when I want to create a new planting bed I take those cardboard boxes I get from Amazon, break them down and lay them over the spot I want to turn into a planting bed, then cover it all with leaves. By spring my planting bed is ready to go.

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On 12/2/2021 at 7:25 PM, Externet said:

I do not do compost 😟

 

If you deny yourself the benefits of a key neolithic technology that has not been substantially improved upon in the intervening millenia, what grounds do you have for anticipating anything beyond a pre-neolithic level of return on your labours?

For what it's worth, most tree leaves take at least a year to break down fully in temperate climates, so they're usually composted separately. Using them for mulching before they're properly broken down will (if memory serves) rob the soil of available nitrogen. 

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1 hour ago, sethoflagos said:

 

For what it's worth, most tree leaves take at least a year to break down fully in temperate climates, so they're usually composted separately. Using them for mulching before they're properly broken down will (if memory serves) rob the soil of available nitrogen. 

No expert but is that right? Leaves are  broken down by fungi and not bacteria

I have heard that  "normal"  manure  is said to deplete the soil of nitrogen if not sufficiently  rotted but haven't heard that said about leaves. 

 

 

 

Edited by geordief
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From everything I've read, leaves are great for mulch and you can use 3 - 6 inches on your planting beds. I've never heard they depleted soil nitrogen. If they did I assume that all forests would have a nitrogen deficiency.

Leaves are also great to till into the soil, but if you add too much (which is never defined) you can tie up nitrogen as it is breaking down.

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8 hours ago, sethoflagos said:

If you deny yourself the benefits of a key neolithic technology that has not been substantially improved upon in the intervening millenia, what grounds do you have for anticipating anything beyond a pre-neolithic level of return on your labours?

The hydroponic farmers might argue about that.

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On 12/2/2021 at 9:06 PM, zapatos said:

On a side note, when I want to create a new planting bed I take those cardboard boxes I get from Amazon, break them down and lay them over the spot I want to turn into a planting bed, then cover it all with leaves. By spring my planting bed is ready to go.

 

Great idea +1.

 

9 hours ago, geordief said:

No expert but is that right? Leaves are  broken down by fungi and not bacteria

I have heard that  "normal"  manure  is said to deplete the soil of nitrogen if not sufficiently  rotted but haven't heard that said about leaves. 

 

8 hours ago, zapatos said:

From everything I've read, leaves are great for mulch and you can use 3 - 6 inches on your planting beds. I've never heard they depleted soil nitrogen. If they did I assume that all forests would have a nitrogen deficiency.

Leaves are also great to till into the soil, but if you add too much (which is never defined) you can tie up nitrogen as it is breaking down.

 

It is worth distinguishing different types of vegetable material.

I thought fungi go for the woody parts mostly. Moulds and smaller organisms go for the softer material.

Some plants are all soft material, (perhaps roots apart). I was taught to use mustard as 'green manure'. This is planted before the desired crop and dug in green and whole not long before replanting. The practice is coming back into fashion with farmers as a soil conditioner. it prevents leaving bare earth to suffer soid leaching.

But many plants have woody parts, stems, branches, spikes, needles etc.

Some leaves also have a waxy coating or other thick coating which makes them doubly hard to rot down.

It is not only nitrogen that counts.
Pine needles create a very acid layer which suppresses most other plants and acidifies the soil when they eventually rot.
Pine needle leaf mould is not good to add to most domestic or agricultural soils.
Vegetable production especially needs less acidity, which is why we traditionally lime the soil.

 

10 hours ago, sethoflagos said:

For what it's worth, most tree leaves take at least a year to break down fully in temperate climates, so they're usually composted separately. Using them for mulching before they're properly broken down will (if memory serves) rob the soil of available nitrogen. 

 

Yes they can take longer than say carrot tops or grass cuttings, about the same time as straw for instance.
However a small amount of nitrogen loss is often not a problem, except to nitrogen greedy plants like rhubarb or asparagus.
And the fact that they take longer makes them an ideal weed suppression mulch.
Some use straw. Traditionally straw performs this function in strawberry beds as well as keeping the berries off the gorund.

 

2 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

The hydroponic farmers might argue about that.


Not sure why they would argue with Seth's statement ?

 

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1 hour ago, studiot said:

It is worth distinguishing different types of vegetable material.

I thought fungi go for the woody parts mostly. Moulds and smaller organisms go for the softer material.

"Principally, it is the action of fungi that break down the leaves. These fungi are quite slow workers, so that is why the two year wait is recommended. Leaf mould does not need worms, activators or anything else."

 

http://www.ipcc.ie/advice/composting-diy/composted-leaves-leaf-mould/

 

is what I had heard but thanks for the info

 

 

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3 hours ago, geordief said:

"Principally, it is the action of fungi that break down the leaves. These fungi are quite slow workers, so that is why the two year wait is recommended. Leaf mould does not need worms, activators or anything else."

 

http://www.ipcc.ie/advice/composting-diy/composted-leaves-leaf-mould/

 

is what I had heard but thanks for the info

 

 

I am more than happy to learn something from anyone with more knowledge of biological classification than I have, my classification scheme is strictly of the common or gardening variery. So I call tomatoes salad veg, although they are actually fruit.

+1 :)

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1 hour ago, studiot said:

I am more than happy to learn something from anyone with more knowledge of biological classification than I have, my classification scheme is strictly of the common or gardening variery. So I call tomatoes salad veg, although they are actually fruit.

+1 :)

https://pediaa.com/difference-between-mold-and-fungus/

"

Mold and fungus are two types of organisms that belong to the kingdom Fungi. The main difference between mold and fungus is that mold is a multicellular, filamentous fungi whereas fungus is a unicellular or multicellular organism with a chitin cell wall. Fungi include molds, mushrooms, and yeast. A mushroom refers to a macroscopic fruiting body of basidiomycetes or ascomycetes. Yeast are unicellular fungi. Fungi are eukaryotic organisms, containing membrane-bound organelles. Molds produce conidia as their asexual spores. Fungi are typically decomposers that grow on decaying organic matter. They secrete digestive enzymes on the organic matter."

 

something I didn't know either.(it must surely be called "leaf mould" for a reason you'd have thought)

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, geordief said:

https://pediaa.com/difference-between-mold-and-fungus/

"

Mold and fungus are two types of organisms that belong to the kingdom Fungi. The main difference between mold and fungus is that mold is a multicellular, filamentous fungi whereas fungus is a unicellular or multicellular organism with a chitin cell wall. Fungi include molds, mushrooms, and yeast. A mushroom refers to a macroscopic fruiting body of basidiomycetes or ascomycetes. Yeast are unicellular fungi. Fungi are eukaryotic organisms, containing membrane-bound organelles. Molds produce conidia as their asexual spores. Fungi are typically decomposers that grow on decaying organic matter. They secrete digestive enzymes on the organic matter."

 

something I didn't know either.(it must surely be called "leaf mould" for a reason you'd have thought)

 

 

 

 

Keep digging

+1 :)

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6 minutes ago, studiot said:

 

Keep digging

+1 :)

I would but I sprained my left ankle yesterday  coincidentally a couple of hours before I was due to take a neighbour into the doctor for the exact  same ailment.

A case of the crippled driving the crippled.That and Storm Barra has made for a couple of evenings and afternoons in front of the fire with legs up.

 

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7 hours ago, studiot said:

Not sure why they would argue with Seth's statement ?

 

 

18 hours ago, sethoflagos said:

a key neolithic technology that has not been substantially improved upon in the intervening millenia

Because they think they have made a significant step forward since the use of manure.

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16 hours ago, geordief said:

No expert but is that right? Leaves are  broken down by fungi and not bacteria

I have heard that  "normal"  manure  is said to deplete the soil of nitrogen if not sufficiently  rotted but haven't heard that said about leaves. 

Moreorless exclusively by fungi as I recall. 

I think it's the lignin content that can cause nitrogen depletion so perhaps there's some variation with species. Also, unlike fresh leaves, the C-N ratio for typical autumn leaf fall is quite high at 50:1, double the 25:1 you typically look for in a good compost mix, so it doesn't bring much to the party nutrient-wise. Great soil conditioner though, at least when it's become leaf mould.

15 hours ago, zapatos said:

From everything I've read, leaves are great for mulch and you can use 3 - 6 inches on your planting beds. I've never heard they depleted soil nitrogen. If they did I assume that all forests would have a nitrogen deficiency.

Leaves are also great to till into the soil, but if you add too much (which is never defined) you can tie up nitrogen as it is breaking down.

Aren't forest soils typically high on organics, low on nutrients? 

9 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

The hydroponic farmers might argue about that.

Not entirely sure why.

6 hours ago, studiot said:

Yes they can take longer than say carrot tops or grass cuttings, about the same time as straw for instance.
However a small amount of nitrogen loss is often not a problem, except to nitrogen greedy plants like rhubarb or asparagus.
And the fact that they take longer makes them an ideal weed suppression mulch.
Some use straw. Traditionally straw performs this function in strawberry beds as well as keeping the berries off the gorund.

Back in the day, we had friends who kept horses, so my nitrogen supply never became an issue.

36 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:

Because they think they have made a significant step forward since the use of manure.

Okay...

So how do they dispose of surplus organic material?

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1 hour ago, John Cuthber said:

Because they think they have made a significant step forward since the use of manure.

Yes this is perfectly true.

But it is not an answer to Seth's question, which you quoted as you were responding to.

I read Seth's 'neolithic technology' as the (ecologically good) use of leaves.

This has actually nothing to do with hydroponics, unless you count the manufacture of what we used to call 'liquid manure'. I don't know if the trade name liquinure is still going.

48 minutes ago, sethoflagos said:

Aren't forest soils typically high on organics, low on nutrients? 

Ye, but I've never seen anyone till a forest.

Ploughing or digging in green manure is quite different.

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You seem to have missed the point. regardless of whether we are talking about "cave-men" using green manure or animal manure, the users of hydroponics think they have made an improvement over the Neolithic technology.

On 12/8/2021 at 12:40 AM, sethoflagos said:

a key neolithic technology that has not been substantially improved upon in the intervening millenia,

It may have been key to Neolithic society.
It is still important.
However, it has, in at least some circumstances, been "substantially improved upon".

(Unless, of course, you think the hydroponic farmers are actually using tech that is sells good than the traditional approach).

You are technically right in saying it doesn't answer the question but consider this.

 "Is the Whitehouse made from cheese because of pressure from the dairy lobby?"

Arguably, the answer to that is "no".

But pointing out that the Whitehouse is not actually made of cheese is not a bad thing.

 

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9 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:


 "Is the Whitehouse made from cheese because of pressure from the dairy lobby?"

Arguably, the answer to that is "no".

But pointing out that the Whitehouse is not actually made of cheese is not a bad thing.

 

Mary?(She was  a big one)

Edited by geordief
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17 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

You seem to have missed the point. regardless of whether we are talking about "cave-men" using green manure or animal manure, the users of hydroponics think they have made an improvement over the Neolithic technology.

But my post wasn't about manuring, green or otherwise was it. It was about composting. Why the misdirection?

Hydroponics may well be an improvement over some other earlier technology, but it does nothing I can see for the disposal of garden waste, animal bedding etc. The available alternatives for those duties are burning or landfill. These are not improvements imho, far from it.

Incidentally, you may have seen the recent publicity push for post-mortem composting. An ancient solution to serious contemporary issues.

17 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

You are technically right in saying it doesn't answer the question but consider this.

 "Is the Whitehouse made from cheese because of pressure from the dairy lobby?"

Arguably, the answer to that is "no".

But pointing out that the Whitehouse is not actually made of cheese is not a bad thing.

Does 'straw man' have a collective noun? Seem to be gathering in flocks.

Edited by sethoflagos
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21 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

You seem to have missed the point. regardless of whether we are talking about "cave-men" using green manure or animal manure, the users of hydroponics think they have made an improvement over the Neolithic technology.

I haven't missed any point.

I have tried to make the point that hydroponics has little or nothing to do with the use of rotting leaves and other vegetable matter., which this thread is about.

I am sorry if that was not clear but I see that Seth has explained it better himself.

 

You are however correct in that the late 20th century has brought in a new technology to do with this in tthe guise of biodigestors.
The spread of these has been accelerated by the push for recycling.

Also a candidate for newer technology would be the making of silage. Although this is to do with stems as much as leaves.

 

On 12/2/2021 at 6:25 PM, Externet said:

Hi, thanks.

They never stop flying and ask for daily raking from everywhere else if left on a pile.  I do not do compost 😟

This is mostly about beneficial uses and tinkering with milling. 😉

I wonder if my use of the words compost and rotting are causing confusion.

Leaves will eventually rot whether you compost them or not.

Your mention of 'milling' makes me wonder if you are referring to the used of machine shredders  ?

Certainly many gardeners use these to create a finer consistency of the materials, which can include stems and twigs and bark.
This produces a finer more even consistency material for 'mulching'. The main purpose of mulching is weed suppression and moisture retention, not fertiliser although the shredded material (pulverized ?) eventually rots down to return any nutrients to the soil.  Equally this process accelerates the rotting.

So I don't see how you can divorce the two.

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On 12/2/2021 at 5:18 PM, Externet said:

 

Is adding dry, pulverized-to-dust leaves a decent, beneficial way to fertilize soil for growing the same/other species that yielded those leaves ?

Is there a non-industrial (not costly as for personal yard use) method to mill leaves to powder by converting/repurposing existing household appliances ?  -Perhaps a clever modification for a discarded clothesdryer machine, a blender, a ...-  A few cubic metres of leaves once or twice a year should do it.

That's not about waste disposal, is it?
So...
 

 

7 hours ago, sethoflagos said:

But my post wasn't about manuring, green or otherwise was it. It was about composting. Why the misdirection?

Hydroponics may well be an improvement over some other earlier technology, but it does nothing I can see for the disposal of garden waste, animal bedding etc. The available alternatives for those duties are burning or landfill. These are not improvements imho, far from it.

No; hydroponics is not about waste disposal, but nor is the thread.

Trying to get back to the topic isn't normally called "misdirection".

It remains the case that improvements in fertiliser technology have been made since the Neolithic era.

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5 hours ago, studiot said:

The main purpose of mulching is weed suppression and moisture retention

I don't know if it is 'main purpose', but let's not forget that mulching done in the fall is in large part to keep the soil from thawing prematurely. If not mulched and you have a couple of early warm days in the spring, you run the risk of root growth beginning which can then be damaged by a subsequent freeze.

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3 hours ago, zapatos said:

I don't know if it is 'main purpose', but let's not forget that mulching done in the fall is in large part to keep the soil from thawing prematurely. If not mulched and you have a couple of early warm days in the spring, you run the risk of root growth beginning which can then be damaged by a subsequent freeze.

Fair comment, people in different climates garden differently.

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On 12/10/2021 at 4:45 AM, studiot said:

Your mention of 'milling' makes me wonder if you are referring to the used of machine shredders  ?

Hi. Yes, shredding (milling) leaves to dust (fine powder as flour) and added to soil is the question.  Nothing involving composting.

 

On 12/10/2021 at 8:42 AM, John Cuthber said:

That's not about waste disposal, is it?

No, simply adding the dry leaves as fallen in autumn, milled to dust form to soils being tilled to help fertility, not mulching as soil covering, without any rotting or composting,

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