Mixing leaves in soil, and using right away


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I have lots of leaves from last fall. The leaves are dry, whole - not mulched, and in several plastic bags.
It is my understanding that, for these leaves to make good compost, I will need to mulch them, mix them with other compost, and let them sit for several months.
What would happen if ran the leaves over with a lawn mower, mixed the "mulched" leaves in soil, and used that soil within a few weeks?
I know this would be less than ideal, but would it be better than nothing? Would it harm anything?
 
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Fine probably, might depend a little bit what the leaves came from. Oak leaves might turn it a bit acidic for example, if I did that I would sprinkle a bit of something alkaline as well like garden lime or wood ash. Some things are fussier about what they grow in than others, runner beans would love it, onions probably wouldn't be great. What were you thinking of planting and do you know what the leaves came off?
 
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The leaves are from a fir tree. I might be planting some greens, also some potatoes, and maybe some strawberries.
 
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Use them on top as a mulch and carry on.
I would agree with that, do your planting first. In my experience conifers take longer to break down but they will suppress weeds nicely and gradually get incorporated as the microbiology of the soil is up against them in a damp place.
 
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I use live oak leaves that have fallen and incorporate them into the soil at the end of the growing season and the way that I do it is to dig a trench and mix the leaves with the dug out soil. I use about 25% leaves to the volume of soil that I have dug up. By spring the leaves have mostly decomposed. I find that using more than about 30% seems to reduce plant growth.
 
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Do you think the reduced plant growth is due to acidity, or do the leaves leech nitrogen from the soil?
If the leaves are leeching nitrogen, could you could compensate by just adding manure, or something?
 
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Do you think the reduced plant growth is due to acidity, or do the leaves leech nitrogen from the soil?
If the leaves are leeching nitrogen, could you could compensate by just adding manure, or something?
I have very alkaline soil so it has to be nitrogen depletion. I always fertilize my plants in the spring but I rarely grow anything in the late fall or winter, but I suppose you could add nitrogen whether it be manures or fertilizer.
 
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I have lots of leaves from last fall. The leaves are dry, whole - not mulched, and in several plastic bags.
It is my understanding that, for these leaves to make good compost, I will need to mulch them, mix them with other compost, and let them sit for several months.
What would happen if ran the leaves over with a lawn mower, mixed the "mulched" leaves in soil, and used that soil within a few weeks?
I know this would be less than ideal, but would it be better than nothing? Would it harm anything?
Leaves don’t really add and nutrition to compost, they’re more useful in improving soil structure. Chopping them up and mixing them to the compost will be fine. You can either use it to fill beds or as a mulch
 
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I put leaves on the garden in the fall and till them in. I also use leaves between the rows of potatoes....helps control weeds.
 
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I have read, somewhere, that dried leaves will leech nitrogen from the soil. Is that a concern?
 
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I have read, somewhere, that dried leaves will leech nitrogen from the soil. Is that a concern?
IMO using dead dried leaves is OK if you do not add more than about 25%-30% of volume to the soil. Dried leaves have a small amount of NPK, nitrogen is about 1% of weight/volume.
 
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Leaves don’t really add and nutrition to compost, they’re more useful in improving soil structure
True, there is an experiment using a fixed quantity of different sorts of soil and compost and pouring water into them until it runs out, then squeezing them to see how much you can get out. Leaf mould will hold more water than anything, but practically nothing squeezes out.
 
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Conifers are a no go to dig them in that they will take forever to breakdown. They may be ok as a mulch but them what? You have got to dig them in. I have 4 Sycamore and 1 Ash tree in my back garden in the UK. I take the leaves down to the allotment and put half in a huge bin and dig the rest into the soil. The ones in the bin I/my wife transfers into a second bin come spring after we have emptied it of 2 year old leaves which we dig in. They don't add a lot to the soil but improve the structure. The ones I dug in 2021 from fresh leaves are barely visible when I have been turning the soil over this morning ready for setting peas. The worms have taken them down and done their best.
 

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