Mulching with leaves

Joe1980(5)August 14, 2011

I'm thinking about using shredded leaves for mulch in my veggie garden next year. I have an electric blower/vac that mulches up the leaves, which will work great. With that said, say I mulch up a bunch this fall, and wish to apply it next spring. What should I do with my shredded leaves over winter? Should I dump them in a pile, and allow them to start composting, or do I bag them up to keep them from composting? If I dump them in a pile, should I add nitrogen to aid the composting, or NOT add nitrogen, to slow down composting? Thanks!


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Hi Joe1980,
Is there a reason to wait ????
Unless there was some reason, I would get them in the beds ASAP, as soon as you pull whatever you have growing now, if you are not sowing a Fall crop, I would put them in place and even "turn them in" let the processes begin going to work, you will be tickled pink with the grand results from such an effort.....
Feed the will feed your plants ;-)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 10:12PM
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I have no leaves now, and won't until late fall. I do have fall crops in already, and will probably as late as possible. Lord knows I love radishes, and those suckers get run pretty late in my garden. My goal here is to have a layer of mulch to hold moisture and supress weeds. I plan to work compost into my soil next spring too, so if I dump all my shredded leaves on in fall, I won't have any mulch. I plan to make plenty of compost, plus save a bunch of leaves just for mulching. I wanna know how to keep my shredded leaves good for mulch through winter.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 10:54PM
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Personally, I would just pile the leaves up without nitrogen, and I don't expect they will decompose all that much over the cold winter. Shredded fall leaves are my very favorite mulch. I usually don't have a ton of them, so I just shred them and mulch my beds immediately with them in the fall.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 11:47PM
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I too pile the leaves on the garden in the Fall. When Spring rolls around, I simply remove some of them if I need to.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 7:21AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I put leaves on my garden in the fall. They last as mulch for most of the next growing season. By the following fall, my garden is ready for another layer of leaves.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 11:14AM
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If you want them in cold storage for later use as mulch then you could bag or cover them somehow to keep them dry and slow down the decomp. My first preference is to put them where you want them as soon as possible. My second preference is to just pile them up somewhere and not worry about it. If they turn part way to leaf mold that's not bad either. Then again, I tend to leave the leaves where they fall except on pavement. My county is trying to convert property owners and landscapers to mulch mowing of all leaves and grass.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 8:34PM
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I usually mulch my grass and leaves, but I'd like to now use the leaves. I have pine bark mulch in the veggie garden this year, but I want something thinner in texture, which would be easier to plant in, and easier for seedlings to penetrate. As I said though, I plan to hand till compost into my soil next spring, to improve my clay, so dumping all my leaves in there this fall wouldn't do me any good. I'd have to rake them all back out in spring, or else I wouldn't have my mulch. I'm thinking maybe I'll need to build another compost bin, and just dump the leaves in there until spring, and collect a bunch for compost making in the other bin. And to think, I figured one bin would be plenty when I started.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 10:20PM
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I have a bin for extra leaves and a bin for potting soil. I also bag up tons of leaves and drag the bags into the woods where I ignore them until they are leaf mold that I use as mulch.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 10:49AM
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Leaves, shredded, go onto my planting beds in the fall and stay there which helps in the spring when there is much more work to do. Those I don't compost and use as mulch usually last on the gardens until about this time of year when the Soil Food Web has pretty much digested them. There is no need to wait until spring to put shredded leaves on the garden as mulch. If planting seeds in the spring pull enoguh back to expose some soil to seed into. If putting started plants in pull back enpough of the mulch to plant and then move that mulch back near the plant.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 11:25AM
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The OP asked how to store the shredded leaves to use in the spring & whether or not to add nitrogen to them.

Don't bother adding anything to them. Bagging up won't prevent them from composting. Composting won't hurt them either.

I've had good results putting them in heavy duty black plastic bags out of the way. It's nice that slugs & weed seeds aren't in the bags when you open in spring.

The 1st year I bothered with poking holes & turning the bags, but they weren't heavy duty & ripped a bit by spring. The mostly maple leaves weren't shredded either, so took 2 years to be ready to use as leaf mold & slugs made their way into the holes.

Since then I don't poke holes or turn unless the bags are in the way of other projects. I've also stored in a chicken wire ring with stakes in the ground & eventually used it as a potato planting bin.

Anything that keeps them from blowing around the garden for use in the spring should work.

My preferred veg. garden mulch is dried grass clippings (no herbicides or fertilizers).

Straw works as well and bleaches to an even color in the sunshine. I gather them all year when I can get them free & store in the garden until use. This year I had one of those compressed bales that refused to open up, so I pulled apart sections an inch thick for blocks of mulch over soaker hoses for the tomatoes.

Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 10:55PM
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