Composting Garden Leaves

Discussion in 'Compost, Fertilisers & Recycling' started by welshone, Nov 6, 2020.

  1. welshone

    welshone Apprentice Gardener

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    I wish I could compost my garden leaves.

    Every year I can collect 3 or 4 black bags of leaves from my bushes and tree's at the base of the garden.

    But one of the tree's is a Sycamore and the seeds cover the whole garden when they fall over 2/3 mths and every spring/summer its a constant job of searching for new shoots from the seeds.

    Because of the seeds, all the leaves go for the council's recycle collection every week.

    Where its said to keep the leaves in bags etc for 12mths to decompose for leaf mold.

    Would this neutralise the seeds preventing them seeding to safely use as leaf mold.
     
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    • Sheal

      Sheal Total Gardener

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      I sympathise welshone. I had three Sycamores in my garden of three years and have had two removed. The seeds are more likely to sprout in compost. It is worth trying them as leaf mould in bags along with the leaves, with no soil they are more likely to rot down. The seedlings grow all over my lawns and gravel drive and like yourself I have to pull them out, but on the lawns I mow them off. In autumn I rake all the leaves but at that time there aren't any seeds on the ground. I take my leaves to the tip as they just become a soggy mess.
       
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      • Mike Allen

        Mike Allen Total Gardener

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        If I may. Briefly, as a plant pathologist. In short leaves collected and bagged will remain the same for a long time. The process and action of bagging leaves or whatever. You are simply collecting, storing and scientifically, depriving the contents to the natural elements.

        In simple terms. Leaves and all such vegetive waste, has to be allowed to die down. In the process of converting leaves and general garden waste, the process has got to be rearranged. Here the most important factor is heat and moisture. This is accomplished by the whole amount being stored and continually turned and destroyed. It is a very difficult process to explain. Certain seeds will germinate, collaps and re emerge.
         
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          Last edited: Nov 15, 2020
        • NigelJ

          NigelJ Total Gardener

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          I have a number of Ash and Sycamore trees around me, ash leaves are not a problem, sycamore are another thing. I rake them up when the majority have fallen and are nice and wet and stick them in dumpy bags, drag them behind the fruit cage and forget for 12 to 24 months; after which the nice crumbly leaf mould gets used as a mulch. I find I don't get many seedlings from this.
          The fresh seed of both trees and ivy germinates all over the place and I pull up hundreds a year.
          Autumn leaves contain little in the way of nutrients as the trees have stripped out anything useful for reuse before they fall. They are mainly cellulose, lignin and waste, as a result of this decomposition is mainly a slow fungal/bacterial process, some parts are eaten, digested by invertebrates and returned to the pile.
          Composting utilizes material with more nutrients such as grass, weeds, green leaves etc this decomposes more rapidly is mainly bacterial and generates more heat. Unfortunately a heap of only green material becomes hot, wet and smelly; so you mix in dryer material with low nutrient levels such as shredded paper, straw, cardboard and such like. Also you turn the heap regularly to mix everything up and allow air in.
          When done on a large scale composting gets hot enough to kill weed seeds, however most garden heaps are not big enough to maintain a high enough temperature for a long enough period. Hence the advice not to add weed seed heads and diseased plants to your home compost heap.
           
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