Is there a chemical

dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)November 17, 2013

I can use to rot leaves faster? I don't have many greens and I'd be quite happy to sprinkle Nitrogen fertilizer on them, or Rot it or ??? I'm impatient and am not gardening organically.

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Nitrogen fert works. Cheap form is ammonium sulfate.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 5:44PM
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Shred your leaves, it'll speed things along.

N and lime will help things along, too.

The shredding will really speed things up compared to anything else, though.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 6:56PM
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    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 10:20PM
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    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 5:00AM
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There are a number of ways to speed up the digestion of leaves and, as indicated, size of the leaves can be a factor. Then there comes the Carbon to Nitrogen ratio which in newly fallen leaves is quite close (40:1) to the optimal 30:1 composter often strive for. Then there is the moisture level. The bacteria that will be digesting those leaves do need some but not too much. An excess of water will exclude the air those bacteria need to work.
Short answer is yes, Nitrogen.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 7:00AM
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As others have said, some form of added nitrogen (N). Urea (46-0-0) will give you the best bang for the buck. Fresh manures or urine are also effective, as is blood meal.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 4:23PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

Great all, thanks so much. I've just piled the leaves in the veggie garden, some of it mixed with grass clippings but there are not enough clippings to get the right ratio of green to browns. Unfortunately, it is raining now so I won't be able to shred them any more than they are so I will try using nitrogen and hope that they will be broken down in the springtime. If the weather dries over the next few months, I will try to shred what I can. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 5:03PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

As mentioned due to low nitrogen to carbon ratio, fall leaves do not compost readily. In your coastal BC environment like our PNW, with 6 months of rain and cool weather a warm composting is not practical. I will approach it from another angle : Vermicomposting. Earth worms do it faster than micro organisms. I would also mix in some garden soil with it and cover it, to keep it warm and the rain out . I would check now and then to make sure that the pile is moist. I would spend some money on worms if you do not have them around already. My last year's leaves took over 9 months to break down. It was my first year experience here.
Another use for fall leaves is to just forget composting and till them into garden bed (like now). In this case crushed leaves are better. The more you till and mix them into the soil, the quicker the result. ONCE AGAIN, hire some worms.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 9:12PM
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Provide earthworms with an environment they can live in, ie. a good healthy soil, and they will move in. No need to hire any. Adding leaves, shredded, whole, digested or undigested, as well as other forms of vegetative waste will do that. Nothing terribly complicated about that

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 6:09AM
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I rarely see stuff like urea all by itself. I suppose it could be found at a farm supply or nursery, but those seem to have higher prices than the big box stores. The cheapest fertilizers I seem to find are lawn fert (e.g. 29-3-4). That's not enough P and K to overload as long as you don't already have excess of either one. Of course spring is the best time to find lawn fert on sale...

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 11:11AM
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I find urea readily at the DO IT and Ace hardware stores (look for 46-0-0). Really cheap.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 11:19AM
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I'll have to check into that, I actually have more than enough P and K in the garden already. :-]

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 11:12AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Ammonia is cheap and readily available. Pee in the compost also is converted into ammonia. The expert pee advocates would keep it bottled for a while then add it to compost.

Also as mention Ammonium sulfate can be used, manures of various kind can be mixed in as well to help activate composting. Coffee grind is another source.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 3:25PM
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