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Old 06-14-2019, 12:27 PM
 
Location: Kronenwetter, Wis
461 posts, read 1,033,656 times
Reputation: 288

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I have a huge pile of leaf dirt in a clearing in my woods. I have 20 maple trees in my backyard so get a lot, (did I say a lot?) of leaves in the fall. I pick them up with a leaf vacuum pulled by a garden tractor so they get really chopped up, first by the mower blades and then by the vacuum impeller. I've been dumping them in the back woods for years, thus I have a huge beautiful pile of pure leaf dirt.
I'm thinking that pile of dirt is pure carbon with little or no nitrogen. Nothing is growing out of that dirt pile; maybe a few sparse weeds.

My question is: If I fill a wheel barrow with this dirt, how much nitrogen (granular) do I add to this wheel barrow to make it fertile.......1 cup, 2 cups?????? In other words, is there a "receipe" or formula. This is probably a hard question to answer but just wondering if anybody else out there has this situation.
I have a Master Gardner neighbor and he can't give me a straight answer.
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Old 06-14-2019, 02:11 PM
 
2,802 posts, read 1,533,767 times
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Turn 3-4 inches of the leaf mold into your existing oil, then add your normal amount of granular nitrogen to the soil. Use the leaf mold as an amendment to the soil, not as soil itself.

You can also use it as a beautiful top dressing around your plants.
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Old 06-15-2019, 10:27 AM
 
Location: Kronenwetter, Wis
461 posts, read 1,033,656 times
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Thanks oldgardener. I kinda do that and it's working.
The majority of my gardening is in containers so I'm mixing my own soil. Trying to get away from buying the potting mix bags. Too many $$$$.
Today I planted potatoes in one of my containers and used last years potting mix with the leaf dirt 50/50 mix so we'll see how that works.
My containers are a heavy plastic food grade from a local cheese factory. Size is close to 4'x4' and 5" deep so on some plants I raise the sides with wood. I have them counter height so can stand and weed etc.
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Old 06-15-2019, 01:57 PM
 
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I, too, would recommend just mixing it into your soil as you would with any compost.
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Old 06-15-2019, 05:28 PM
 
Location: Puna, Hawaii
2,129 posts, read 2,329,772 times
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"Recipe" we use is 50% such material mixed with 50% manure and let it compost.
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Old 06-15-2019, 05:32 PM
 
Location: Minnesota
2,273 posts, read 1,064,467 times
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My dad always added lime to decomposing stuff. Ether granules or powder form. Maybe add some of that to change pH. I think decomposing leafs are usually at one extreme of the pH spectrum,I think acidic,lime helps to bring it to a more neutral state.
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Old 06-18-2019, 10:12 PM
 
18,766 posts, read 56,535,930 times
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Complete decomposition results in carbon dioxide and little left in the soil. Don't be in a rush to get there. When I lived in south Florida, clippings and leaves got tossed six inches deep under my orange jasmine hedge and within about nine months, the soil there was right back to sand.

Charcoal may actually a better soil conditioner than your leaf mulch:

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/...oryId=89562594

"Dr. GUO: Charcoal is a fine-grained, porous black carbon, and it is generated from plant materials. And it is non-toxic to plants. So there are many tiny pores in charcoal. So once applied to soil, the pores will allow air to diffuse into the soil. Plant roots need the air to breathe. And in the meanwhile, the tiny pores will hold water and nutrients and later supply it to plants. More important, unlike other organic fertilizers, charcoal is very stable and it will not decompose to carbon dioxide. So once applied, it will stay in soil for hundreds to thousands of years. So to summarize, the high stability and porosity make charcoal a better fertilizer than other organic materials.

FLATOW: And you've actually conducted tests showing this?

Dr. GUO: Yes. "


What your leaf waste can do is provide food for soil organisms, hold moisture, open the soil, and moderate fertilizers. Add a lot of nitrogen and it will decompose into air more quickly. Keep it very damp (largely excluding oxygen) and acid like a bog and it will last longer. The sugar plantations in the Everglades took the wet bogland and drained it and planted sugarcane in the rich soil. That land is now about ten feet lower than the roads that run through it going up to South Bay. The mulch/bog/organics became CO2 over time.
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Old 07-01-2019, 05:13 PM
 
Location: Kronenwetter, Wis
461 posts, read 1,033,656 times
Reputation: 288
Thanks everybody for the replies. Since I posted the question I've repotted various plants in larger pots. I mixed leaf dirt with last years potting mix 50/50. Threw in a little peat moss. So far great results. I have plenty of each so I'm in great shape.
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