Garden log, 12.15.14

A quick reminder to myself that I sowed in-situ seeds of Nemophila discoidalis ‘Penny Black,’ Verbena bonariensis, Anagallis monellii, and Primula veris. I’ll try some in flats in my cold frame as well, later in the winter, but when it comes to seeds I find that plants do better with less intervention from me. We’ll see whether these follow the trend.

Work on shredding leaves continues. I hope to have a healthy pile of leaf mold come spring.

 

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5 thoughts on “Garden log, 12.15.14

  1. How do you shred your leaves? Do you use a chipper/shredder, or do you mow them? Just curious. And, do you ever turn your pile, or just leave it? Do your leaves really decompose fast enough to use in the garden by spring?

    I have a chipper/shredder that I used to use, but it was a lot of labor to rake the leaves into the vacuum hose, or lift them to put into the hopper. Now I use a riding mower, going over the leaves several times (oaks need more than other trees), and then use the bagger to pick them up. I put them in a pile, but even with a bit of grass clippings in there, I find that moisture has a tough time getting inside; the leaves seem to shed it, and I have to turn it occasionally or it takes FOREVER (as in well more than a year) to break down. Maybe it’s just because most of it is oak leaves and pine straw. Might break down faster if it was all maple or something else? Or maybe I need to get one of those compost tools that you push down and pull up to open up some holes? I wonder if they work well enough to be worth it? I do add water each time I add more shredded leaves to the pile.

    I’d love to turn those shredded leaves into some lovely leaf mold a bit faster!

    • I use a chipper/shredder. I found a used one on Craigslist a few years ago, and it was one of the best garden purchases I’ve ever made. It is absolutely a pain in the neck to haul out of the shed and drag around the garden, but I try to focus on the end product, which is certainly worth it.

      When shredded, my leaves do break down pretty quickly. I don’t have pine straw in my mix, which may help; pine straw really persists, which makes it wonderful for mulch but not ideal at all for compost. I typically mulch everything in the garden with a layer of the shredded leaves, and whatever else I have left over, I shred and put into the compost pile. It breaks down very nicely when layered with kitchen scraps. When I’m lucky, I have a bucket of chicken coop droppings to add to the mix from some family friends.

      I turn the pile occasionally–maybe once a month, if I am ambitious, but most of the time it just sits. I also try to keep a length of perforated drain pipe set vertically into the pile. I find that it helps rain get into the middle and lower levels of the pile.

      I have one of those compost tools that you plunge into the pile, the tines open, and you pull it out to create air pockets. I like it pretty well. So do my kids, who find creative uses for it outside so I seldom know where it is.

      Good luck! I hope these ideas help.

      • Oh, I love the idea about that perforated drain pipe in the middle! I’ll have to try that! And I’m going to look for one of those tools with the tines that open when you pull back up, too. I think my basic problem is not enough moisture staying on the inside of the pile.

        When I put my shredded stuff in a tumble composter, along with kitchen scraps, it does break down fairly quickly. But that only does a small portion of my shredded leaves each year.

        Thanks for the tip!

  2. I am a newcomer to your blog, but I’m really enjoying it . I have a crazy job and I enjoy taking a break to “cultivate observation” and retreating from the zoo for a while. Thanks for this-John

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