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A New Turn

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A New Turn Empty A New Turn

Post by assassin on Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:43 pm

For many years I have grown my own food and this year a simple plan has come to fruition which is that I have been able to condense all my winter crops into one small area, leaving the rest of my ground open and exposed, this has had been done to allow the majority of it to stand fallow through the winter and allow it to collect the natural silts and remain as natural as possible without the addition of any man made fertilisers, basically it is being left to recover naturally and restock itself of all the natural minerals it needs for the future.

Several years ago I began collecting the falling autumn leaves from the trees and these were placed into large mesh bins and covered over, as they compressed and broke down the bins were emptied into one larger bin and the process was allowed to continue, but the breaking down of leaves takes a long time to do (several years) and now the first stage of this process begins as I have been doing every year since, so I could have a yearly stock of composted leaves to add to the land and let it naturally regenerate itself and not become depleted of nutrients. At the beginning of November this composted leaf material was mixed with naturally fed cows muck and other normally composted materials and spread over the entire ground and was ploughed in to a depth of 16" (400mm) and turned over so it became distributed throughout the soil, this was then topped with the same mixture which was allowed to sit on the surface and collect the natural silts from the environment, and for the winter frosts to work on the ground and break the soil down.  

How long have I left my leaves? this is my first years collecting and it was 7 years ago so they have been composting for 7 years.

How do you compost leaves? quite simply really, you use large mesh baskets and fill them up with the first leaf falls and as they compact you simply add more leaves and keep them full, you cover the tops of the mesh baskets to prevent them becoming waterlogged from the rain and to prevent them blowing out, but you must leave the sides open and exposed to the elements so they collect natural rain water and naturally occuring silts blowing across your land as this is naturally added during the compression stages, to your mixture.

What are the problems composting leaves? mainly its space initially, the leaves do compress quite quickly and while you may have many leaf baskets initially you can quickly empty one into another basket and store the baskets. As they compress, this compression rate slows down as they age, and collecting quantities of leaves can take some time initially. Some leaves take longer to break down that others and this often means you can either wait for them to break down to a lovely leaf mould, or you can select the leaves you require and let them break down for a shorter period.

Can you compress a lot of leaves into one basket? no is the simple answer and this is a mistake I made, I compressed a lot of leaves into one basket for testing purposes and found out very quickly they they do not break down anywhere as near as quickly as those that are dropped in loose and they do not compact down as quickly as loose laid leaves.

Do you add anything to them? no, I have let nature take its course and apart from transferring leaves composting, from one basket to another, you don't need to touch them
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Post by Lopsum on Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:09 am

they break down fast if you shred them , either a shredder or run them over with a mower , adding some grass trimmings will also help . If you turn the piles or bins regularly this will give the pile the air it needs to compost quickly. As you point out leaves compress and stick together forming a blanket that does not break down because it has no airflow .
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Post by Lopsum on Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:17 am

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Post by assassin on Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:04 am

Several problems here, shredding them releases a lot of nutrients and this gives a quicker result, but with a poorer quality product and this is the issue, do you want a quick but poorer product or do you want a top quality product and have the time issue.

Using the longer method uses enzimic action which breaks them down slower, but a much better product is achieved, you could also do both for a quick but poorer product, and run the longer term for a much better product.
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Post by daveiron on Sun Dec 02, 2018 8:31 am

I read somewhere that urine speeds the process. Anyone tried this ?
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Post by assassin on Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:25 am

Generally it does, but slowly composting leaves does not require this as it can create problems by being too acidic and these acids can destroy the enzimic action.
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