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All these bags of leaves by the side of the road are calling my name. WWYD?  RSS feed

 
Casey Halone
Posts: 192
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So this time of year in my part of the world, leaves are bagged up and next to the curb.

Is the permaculture thing to do to dump them back out under the tree as the tree intended?

Suppose someone tells me to stop, and wanting to remain in whatever good graces are left at this point, I do. This just seems like an amazing resource to use and in such an easy to transport orange package to boot.

I plan on throwing a bunch into my rabbits area for them to keep warm with but is there such thing as to much leaf mulch?
 
Tom Celona
Posts: 37
Location: Asheville, NC
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if I can get access to someone's motor vehicle, I drive around and bring as many as I can to my place and make a giant leaf compost pile. It takes longer to break down, but eventually you get wonderful fungal compost.

I would not return bagged leaves onto someones property personally. It just sounds like looking for a fight to me.

I also have rabbits, and I think it's a good idea to give it to them as bedding as well. A good alternative to straw.

I love garbage day.
 
Roger Merry
Posts: 109
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Hi I collect leaf bags too 

You can never have too much leaf mould its the best soil improver there is. I spread them out and whizz them up with the lawn mower - it speeds up the rotting process.

Theoretically you can be stopped by the refuse service from collecting bags of leaves  (or anything else for that matter) 1. because technically bagged rubbish belongs to the refuse service provider and 2. again theoretically, they are worried that if you you hurt yourself on something in the bag they would be responsible............. clearly nonsense but we live in litigious times.

I just collect them before the binmen arrive - saves the argument 
 
George Lee
Posts: 539
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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Collect them, put them under cardboard.Wet leaves
before you top with cardstock...then wet that as well..
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
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I've gone back after leaf piles with a cargo trailer in tow.
I've got plenty of space out here.  There is no such thing as too many leaves, and no such thing as nothing to do with them. 

Compost
Mulch
Leaf logs
Pellet fuel
Winter insulation
Livestock bedding
Worm bedding

Left in a pile of just leaves, they will be slow to decay.  This makes them available later, when I'm sure I will need them, even if I don't have a particular use right now.  Kept dry, they will be around for several years.  Kept moist, they will decay in a couple years, in the meantime the pile serves the needs of housing an abundance of insect life.  The hens will hit that pile every day looking for bugs and are never disappointed.  I could buy feed for the hens or allow them regular access to a big pile of moist leaves.  Leaves are money in the bank and breakfast every day.

Them city folks have no idea what they are tossing out.  They go through all that trouble to rake them up, bag them, and haul them to the side of the road for you to pick up.  They must be awfully nice folks to do that for me. 
 
            
Posts: 75
Location: Ontario, Canada (44.265475, -77.960029)
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Casey Halone wrote:
Suppose someone tells me to stop


I only ever been asked if I rake as well. 

Regards,
Mike
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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its all about sources of the leaf, a lot of it is scraped up from the curbside, which is full of nasty stuff. its better to go around, and learn who treats there property clean and has no contamination. i have 10 people that call me up each year for leaves. all come from properties away from the road or in a backyard. none of them use chemicals and they are very happy when i bring them over some extra food.

so back to sources, ive had people bring me bags of leaves, and ive found cigarette butts, small hard alcohol bottles, plastics, oiled leaves, etc.... not very obvious when you just look at it, but when you really look at it thats the stuff you do not want to use.
 
Andy White
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IMO since they took the lead out of petrol, the worst thing you get in with roadside leaves is dog poo which is only going to be there in small quantities and will rot down anyway. Cigarettes are just tobacco, paper, and charcoal which I can't see as being a problem, and wrappers and plastic can be pulled out when the stuff's being used.
Whenever I go to the allotment, if I'm not carrying a sack of coffee grounds from the local coffee shop, or a bag of wilted fruit and veg. from the local Turkish food mart, I take a large sack and fill it with leaves on the way. There's usually enormous piles in the park or by walls, and it takes about 3 min. to fill up, but if someone's already bagged them up, so much the better.

I'm starting to think I'm more into composting than actually growing things   
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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If we had more deciduous trees and a  dominant culture in NZ that dictated the citizenry bag leaves up up nicely and leave them out for me, I'd be thrilled

habanerohead,  a filter's role is to absorb some of the dodgy chemicals in cigarettes and I'm pretty sure there's loads added. While there's not all that many added to 'roll your owns', 'tailermades' have loads and loads.
I wouldn't have a clue about toxicity if not inhaled, but nicotine all by itself is quite poisonous and toxins from cigarette butts are an issue in stormwater here, so maybe it follows that it could be an issue in the garden?
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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The best garden I ever had was on the worst soil I have had. Since I knew it was terrible, a friend of mine had a very large grain truck, and we went and picked up hundreds of bags of leaves, and dumped them on the garden spot. After doing that, I then passed over it a few times with a tiller, just to keep the leaves from matting. By spring, I had the most wonderful planting space you ever saw, and a huge amount of night crawlers (and a skunk who would eat them that I met one night  )

Leaves are wonderful, the only problem I did have was some of them had black walnuts in them, which I didn't notice and I had a bumper crop of seedlings. I should have planted some, but the lawn had two giant  English walnut trees.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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oh please do be careful..you can inadvertantly bring diseases and chemicals onto your gardens..

I used to get them too, when I noticed some disease in trees in town that looked like cigarette burns on the leaves..we didn't have that here..

a few years later..there it was turning up in my neighbors yards..yuk..

a lot of diseases are spread on leaves that fall
 
Andy White
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Hi All,

Leila
A few thoughts on the subject of cigarette butts in leaves.

Several of my gardening books list nicotine as an insecticide. I remember my grandad having a jar of water with cigarette butts in it for that very purpose.
Here's a quote from Laura Pickett Pottorff, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension horticulturist and plant pathologist

"Nicotine is extracted from tobacco or related Nicotiana species and is one of the oldest botanical insecticides in use today. It's also one of the most toxic to warm-blooded animals and it's readily absorbed through the skin. (Wear gloves when applying it, follow label directions and keep pets away from application areas.) It breaks down quickly, however, so it is legally acceptable to use on organically grown crops."

As far as I know the only thing they add to tobacco is potassium nitrate to keep it lit. Of course nasty chemicals are produced when you burn tobacco, but that happens when you burn any organic material, and it's been shown that frying, roasting and grilling produce many chemicals that are pretty dodgy.

I've never checked any of the references, but the humanure guy mentions studies that show that the composting process breaks down many hazardous compounds, and can even bind heavy metals and prevent their absorption by plants.

http://www.weblife.org/humanure/chapter3_12.html

I guess that inevitably there will be dog ends in leaf piles, but over the last 3 weeks of manic collecting, I can honestly say I haven't harvested one that I've noticed. I'm more concerned with the possibility of Aminopyralid in the horse muck that my co-worker wants to bring in!

Best HH.
 
Matthew Fallon
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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this morning i heard the leaf blowers going at my neighbors homes (2 of them use the same company,so they get done together)
since i know they dont put chemicals on their lawns or plants i told the landscaping supervisor to just dump them off in my drive ,

2 hours later theyre all back in our 'compost corner'. i'm expecting to pick up a truckload of horse manure in a few weeks which i'll mix into these, for now i just layered a little bit with shovel fulls of soil.compost and the last truckfull of horse manure that was delivered. might rain this week so not gonna water.spraying down while piling up woulda been smart but i wanted to get done quick,lot of work today.musta made about 30 trips filling a garbage can from driveway to back corner. they shredded a lot of the leaves down with their lawnmower first too.
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these 4 new beds (4'x24') will get the compost made by the leaves and manure
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
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Driving home today I saw a pile of bagged leaves on the side of the road.
Hit the brakes, loaded them up.
Scored 15 big fat sacks. I'll keep the bags to use in the garage for trash/recycle aluminum cans.
 
Casey Halone
Posts: 192
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OOOh yeah, forgot about the free bag thing. Lots come in the heavy duty orange sacks. Lots of free bags for trash later on huh?
 
Andy White
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Matthew - you fortunate SOB. Leaves delivered to your door!

I've been lugging leaves up to the allotment by the bin bag load for the last 3 weeks. I suppose it's good exercise, but it took a while before I got over feeling really self-conscious about the whole thing. I guess the secret is to just act like it's your job. Even so, weird things happen. I was on my way to the allotment with my empty sack when I spied some perfect leaves just inside the gate of the local crematorium. (perfect = not too wet (too heavy), not too dry (a sackful is loads of air with not much leaf)) so I went into collection mode. I'd got my sack 1/2 full when an emergency vehicle pulled up with flashing lights. "Oh God, how embarassing, I'm going to get busted for stealing a sack of leaves from council property." It turned out that the wagon was an ambulance and the paramedic was answering an emergency call from the crem! He just wanted to know if I'd seen any injured people around.

I see that you're a gardener. maybe you could advise me on a composting question.

I've made a rotating composter. I feed it with coffee grounds, dead stuff from the allotment, newspaper, and urine. It gets going amazingly quickly and gets extremely hot, but after about 2 weeks the exciting bit seems to be over. Even after the pyrotechnics, however, the fibrous stuff is still intact, so I transfer to a holding bin that I've put loads of earthworms in. I was wondering if the addition of some part-rotted leaf mould to the bin would introduce some of the necessary moulds and fungus required to deal with the lignins and other tough stuff, or whether I'd be better off just leaving it to the earthworms.

Cheers
HH.

 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Hi Andy,
I think my anti-cigarette thing is based more on emotion than science. Woe betide them that flicks a butt at my place!
I mean, to paraphrase my PDC teacher... compost microbes can digest DDT...so what's a bit of nicotine and potassium nitrate?
 
Mike Dayton
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
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I have alot of mature maple trees in the yard and have to get the leaves up so that it does not kill the grass. I have an older Alis Chalmers garden tractor that has a pulley drive off the back which runs a leaf vac system. I bought the Alis Chalmers because of the pulley drive for the vac. Every other Mower had to have another 3 to 5hp motor on the vac system to suck up the leaves. I did not want another internal combustion engin to maintain. I think Simplicity uses the old Alis Chalmers design now. I have a cart that pulls behind that holds alot of mulched up leaves from the mower. When I say cart full, you think short bed Pick Up Truck full. I got 54 cart loads of leaves off the yard this year, there maybe 1 or 2 loads still up on the trees. I put a cart load around each of my apple and pear trees. Three cart load of pine needles on the Blue Berrys. Several loads on the Butterfly garden and one load on the sunflowers. The rest go into the garden. I have been doing this for 30 years now. I have about triple the top soil in the garden that I started out with. I have been picking a 10' X 10' section each year now to double dig and sift out the rocks. I add 2 small garden cart loads of leaves to 2 cart loads of sifted sub soil. I add lime to the leaves. I plant my tomatos in these newly done sections each year. My garden has been producing very well, the leaves work great. If it came out of the ground, it can go back into the ground.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6781
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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In just about any city which has lots of deciduous trees you can have big loads like the one Matthew has delivered free of charge. Woodchips and grass clippings are also readily available.

Here in Victoria pesticide use has drastically declined and very few would admit publicly to using it. We have plenty of landscapers who won't touch the stuff, so this is a viable source of compost. For my own purposes I only take this stuff if I get paid to remove it--- and I need the stuff.
 
Matthew Fallon
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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Dale Hodgins wrote: In just about any city which has lots of deciduous trees you can have big loads like the one Matthew has delivered free of charge. Woodchips and grass clippings are also readily available.



Correct , i've had 15-30 yards of fresh woodchips dumped in the past.made some nice mulch/soil!.
also will get a call from these guys if they take a tree down near me. if it's a species i want (maple,walnut,cherry etc) they bring me the full trunk and any large branches which i then slab with a chainsaw and use in my woodworking projects. if they had to cut it small/firewood length i use it for smaller projects and well,firewood to heat the garage shop. win,win,win
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Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6781
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Look at the size of that pile! Now imagine how long that would take to do with a little 5 hp home chipper. I'm currently advertising for landscapers to dump organics at my property so that I can save having to produce these products myself.

My work in the city often produces useful products for gardeners. Yesterday I delivered over a ton of high-quality topsoil from a floodplain for free. I needed to create a permanent drainage trench. My customer had no use for this material and it would have cost $25 to dump it at the local soil reclamation place. My customers save money, the guy who got the soil was very happy and I was the conquering hero who put it all together. So everybody won. Advertising your need on craigslist or any of the other Internet marketing sites will lead you to many free resources from landscapers and other contractors as well as from other homeowners.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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