Amending Leaf Compost

AlexgardenerJune 15, 2014

In my vegetable garden and flower beds I've been using city recycled leaves that are composted into what seems to end as soil without any mineral content. I do not see it as mulch. At first I used it to amend my hard clay/sand mix structure of my soil (original soil was old worked farmland and then the home builders got to it) and then I just replaced this with about a two foot layer of this organic material using it like topsoil. The worms and plants love it, but it can become compacted if stepped upon (even more after its wet) and a good portion of it will dry out quickly, if not protected from the sun becoming loose. My main concern is compaction; thinking that since it is mostly all organic I could mix some sand in it,adding mineral content which might help ease compaction. I also thought about using wood chips and bark mulch to help change its structure. I have used fall leaves and worked that into my vegetable garden's soil with no change. Any suggestions on amending?

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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

You never should have gotten rid of your mineral soil. What you want is mineral soil with about 10% organic matter by weight or 30% by volume. Out of curiosity, what possessed you to get rid of the soil.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 8:44PM
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Organic matter, those leaves, are not soil. Soil is composed of the mineral portion, the sand, silt, and clay particles, and that organic matter. Sand is the largest soil particle and has large spaces between soil particles that allow both water and nutrients flow through fairly quickly. Silt is much smaller in size as is clay and both tend to clump tightly together and prevent flow of water and nutrients. In addition to providing needed nutrients the purpose of organic matter in soils is to fill in the spaces between the sand particles so moisture and nutrients stay available to roots and to separate the silt and clay particles so moisture, nutrients, and plants roots can find each other.
Out in the woods behind the house I find Ma Nature keeps the soil there with organic matter in the range of 6 to 8 percent in the top 6 inches of soil provided we humans do not disrupt that.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nutrients in tree leaves

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 6:38AM
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