Leaf Compost vs Manure Compost

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I'm starting a new garden on my land that has been overfarmed for past 100 years, and left with very clay soil here in MN. I'm thinking about dumping a few dump trucks of compost on top and tilling it in. My options are leaf compost ($16/yard) or manure compost ($22/yard). Suggestions? thank you
 
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If you are going to utilize the garden this year I would go with the manure but otherwise not. The NPK in leaf compost is minor with only about 1% nitrogen and very little phosphorus or potassium, but, it does have many micro-nutrients/trace minerals. Leaf compost also has a large carbon content which is very important to fertility and water retention. No matter which you use it will be beneficial and if you add carbohydrates (molasses) you will greatly enhance the numbers of soil microbes which are what break down organic matter and allow nutrient uptake to plants. But whatever you do, DO NOT use synthetic fertilizers. They are what caused your problems. They burned out all of the organic matter and most microbes and left behind a buildup of mineral salts.
IF it were me and I were to use the garden this year I would go 50/50 and use copious amounts of granulated organic fertilizers.
 
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Next to no nutrients in leaf mould, but there is an experiment where a given volume of various earth has a given volume of water poured through it and measure is taken of how much is retained and how long it takes for the excess to drain. Leaf mould wins on both counts, it drains more quickly than any other and retains more water than any other, so great stuff to have in the soil.
The clay is not bad stuff, except when it is all there is. Those tiny particles retain water well in dry conditions and retain nutrients with it.
Most things add something to the soil, and I would go along with Chuck in saying ideally add both.

PS. A green manure crop would be another good addition.
 
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The main oddball thing about manure is the higher protien content which translates to a superior amino acid profile. Aminos require you to google a while, my apologies.
 
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By leaf compost do you mean leaf mould or compost where the carbon backbone was leaves but with other stuff mixed in?

Manure is tricky these days. I don't bring in any from grazers. The hay industry now commonly uses herbicides (from the pyridine carboxylic acid group) that result in herbicide carryover through to manure...including composted manure. If they fed hay, composted with straw, etc, there is a good chance you'll have growing problems for a few years. So, I'd go for the leaves and supplement from other sources like spent grain from a local brew pub, lots of coffee grounds, carefully selected food wastes, etc.

Long-term, I'd plan on keeping a section for compost you make onsite. Mine goes through bacterial and fungal stages as well as getting processed by worms and black solderfly larvae. The results are far better than I could buy. The backbone of my compost is all the fall leaves collected around my neighborhood. I get eggshells weekly from a local bakery, kombucha wastings and SCOBY from a local kombucha maker, and up until a couple of months ago LOTS of spent coffee grounds. My coffee sources keep drying up so I'm looking for another. We also have kitchen waste that goes in. From time to time...but especially in the fall I trench compost spent brewer grains in all of the crop beds as well as heavy layers in the compost bins. The key is to cover spent grains while they're fresh or it only takes a few days to get gamey. I stop picking up spent grain when I no longer have anything with which to cover it. So, in addition to all the trench composting in beds, I currently run four bins that are roughly 4x4x4 and keep them full. As the compost bins settle, I just keep adding layers. I empty them once a year and I don't bother turning the compost. I get it all distributed in the fall to make room for the onslaught of hundreds of bags of leaves, the grain, eggshells, etc. I have a friend with chickens that really speed up the process for him. I don't have chickens so I rely on the bacteria, fungi, black soldierfly larvae, and worms. It takes the full year and there is still material to break down. I view this as long-term soil building. The soil fauna have responded accordingly.
 
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BTW, you can add a couple of rock dusts, powdered kelp, green sand, and various other amendments while You're creating the beds.

One thing I'd love to find here is quality biochar. Fire ordinances prohibit me from making any and no one carries it here.
 

Meadowlark

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A green manure cover crop is an option which can supercharge your soil. I would do that as well as the leaf compost....but animal manure only from a known trusted source.
 
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BTW, you can add a couple of rock dusts, powdered kelp, green sand, and various other amendments while You're creating the beds.

One thing I'd love to find here is quality biochar. Fire ordinances prohibit me from making any and no one carries it here.
Actually double check that fire ordinance. We have the same thing but firepits and "small" fires are excluded here. What is small? This is mine. I managed 8 wheelbarrow loads of char into the garden from the debris last year.
PXL_20220424_233044920.jpg


That grate is Corten Steel and really good for not rusting to bits outdoors.
 
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I've already checked. I don't have a lot of room but what you show above would not only be considered an open fire but the smoke would put me in a bit of dutch with the neighbors who are tolerant of my other garden activities. I'd like to be able to purchase it.
 
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I've already checked. I don't have a lot of room but what you show above would not only be considered an open fire but the smoke would put me in a bit of dutch with the neighbors who are tolerant of my other garden activities. I'd like to be able to purchase it.
Think dry wood. I let green wood set a while, using the leaves dropped into the compost pile. The hot and fast fire does not smoke nearly as much. If you do not make a blazing hot fire, the organic bits do not burn away as well or as fast either, and the resulting char is lower quality as it takes even longer to oxidize to what you really want in a well oxidized char. I like low temp charcoals made from oak and hickory for my bbq pits, the remaining organics give that flavor profile once the wood gases are burned off.
 

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