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Author Topic: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?  (Read 10058 times)

newstart

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Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« on: August 14, 2010, 12:58:34 PM »
I have a big Sycamore tree which is at the bottom of our street about 15 m from my house very close to my property. Is this ideal for making leaf mould. It often starts to turn dry in november , december so would rot down quicker if collected then. I have looked at the open mesh round compost bins to contain this. Should it be pressed down slightly or quite hard in terms of air space. 

I could be very popular with my street as the council rarely disposes of the leaves. Could be great news all round.

Thanks David.
David in Central England. Lots more still to learn!

Ian Y

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2010, 02:54:56 PM »
David there is good news and bad news.

The bad news is that sycamore is not the best leaves to make leafmould with as they tend to take a longer time to break down than many others.

The good news is that if you can run them through a shredder or chop them up with your lawn mower first then they break down quicker and make good leafmould.

It is vital to make sure they are always kept moist or they will not break down - and I place a weight on top of my leafmould to keep it pressed together.
Ian Young, Aberdeen North East Scotland   - 
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newstart

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2010, 03:14:27 PM »
Are we talking 2-3 years for the leaves to break down? Are the leaves essentially meant to be put in with little pressure on top for good air space. You mentioned a weight on top ,but how heavy, or how much this presses down can make a difference I would of thought?

Thanks again David
David in Central England. Lots more still to learn!

Ian Y

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2010, 04:24:18 PM »
I would expect shredded sycamore leaves to be usable after 1 to 2 years.
I do not leave much in the way of air space in our leafmould heap moisture is more important and there is normally always going to be enough air.
I weigh it down with a cement building block or rock on a mesh grid.
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newstart

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2010, 06:28:06 PM »
I will assume that when its black its ready ? Do I need to add any soil to it to speed up the process or can any other composts speed up the process. i have some old compost maker which I think could accelerate the process. Would this help possibly?

Thanks that should be it.

David.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2010, 06:49:01 PM by newstart »
David in Central England. Lots more still to learn!

Paddy Tobin

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2010, 08:18:57 PM »
It is usually recommended that leaves are stacked in open mesh so as to allow air to circulate but I have never done this and have successfully produced good leafmould for many years. I collect the leaves and pack them as tightly as possible into bags. The bags are of a woven synthetic material which I source from my neighbouring farmer who has every bag which ever entered his farm over the past fifty years I think. They were used for grain seed. I see the same kind of bag used here as coal bags also. These allow air and moisture to enter and leave the leaves. I fill the bags, tie them and stack them. Stacking gives the weight Ian describes above. I find the bags at the bottom of the stack are ready for use within twelve months; those at the top take longer, often left to the following year. I think those at the bottom have guaranteed moisture and good weight on them. Depending on timing I sometimes use them as weight and insulation on top of a compost bin. I do about thirty bags in this fashion each autumn.

Sycamore leaves should work perfectly. My selection is mainly ash, hawthorn and horse chestnut as I have approximately 60 metre stretch of these along one boundary of the garden and then there is the general selection which comes from the garden.

Paddy

Paddy Tobin, Waterford, Ireland

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2010, 08:36:47 PM »
By chance I recalled that I had taken some photographs of the leafmould stack of bags. You may notice that the bags on top appear to be still quite large and those underneath are quite flattened. This is because those on top have not rotted as well as those underneath. After taking the photograph I turned the stack upside down to continue the rotting process and will probably use at least some of the leafmould later in the autumn.

Also attached below are two photographs of a compost heap I opened earlier in the month. This heap was covered in March of this year - witness the top layer of hydrangea prunings. By the way, loads of these prunings had actually begun rooting. This top layer was taken off and thrown onto the heap presently being built and the second photograph of the compost heap shows what was left for my use in the garden. Note how the hen has been attracted by the plentiful availability of worms.

Paddy
« Last Edit: August 14, 2010, 11:33:00 PM by Paddy Tobin »
Paddy Tobin, Waterford, Ireland

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t00lie

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2010, 09:40:53 PM »
Wonderful rich looking compost Paddy .

A dying art down here maybe ?.
I've been landscaping/gardening for nearly 20 years and there would be very few younger folk that i can remember making compost.
 
It is mostly been the older clients of mine that have and use compost bins .

Cheers dave.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2010, 09:48:24 PM by t00lie »
Dave Toole. Invercargill bottom of the South Island New Zealand. Zone 9 maritime climate 1100mm rainfall pa.

Paddy Tobin

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2010, 11:05:26 PM »
Hi Dave,

I would ask: What would I do with all the garden "waste" if I didn't have a compost heap? The garden produces a huge amount of material from grass cutting, pruning, cutting down of perennials etc. etc. There is also an amount of household waste which can be composted - kitchen waste, newspapers, packaging etc. and my "art" of compost making is to heap it all up and leave it until it has rotted. The only area which needs a little care is when I have a lot of grass as this can develop into a mess if enough rough material is not available to mix through it. With a big heap I find it heats up very quickly and rots down quickly also, usable within twelve months.

Paddy
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iann

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2010, 11:18:10 PM »
I generally find that even unshredded leaves are usable after a year, if you don't mind them being a bit coarse with some visible leaves.  Two years is very nice and three is just black powder (gold dust :)).  Anywhere you can keep them moist will work just fine.  You might want to check them at the end of winter and see if they've gone sour.  Just fluff them up to get a bit of air in.  Soon enough you'll learn how it works best, but really the only way to stop them turning in to leaf mould is to keep them completely dry.  Prepare to be amazed just how much they shrink even in one year!  Leaf mould is made primarily by fungi and doesn't heat up.

Composting is something else.  It is primarily bacterial and it heats up.  Dead leaves alone usually won't do this because they don't have enough nitrogen that the bacteria need for food.  You can have a rough usable mulch in a few weeks, and good compost in a couple of months if you turn it a few times and have a big enough pile to keep it hot.  Pile it and leave it takes longer.  I also started composting mainly to get rid of the huge amount of garden waste.  The council now supply green wheelie bins, and I might never have started composting if they'd had them sooner :o
near Manchester,  NW England, UK

Ragged Robin

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2010, 11:28:20 PM »
Composting s described by everyone and illustrated with Paddy's wonderful pictures is just magnificent - it elevates the compost heap to the art of making a layered cake, sliced and demolished by hungry plants - wonderful!   I was the lucky recipient of just such a cake from the New Forest enhanced with well rotted pony manure and the garden looks very well fed  ;D
Valais, Switzerland - 1,200 metres - Continental climate - rocks and moraine

Paddy Tobin

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2010, 11:49:42 PM »
Iann,

I generally use the leaf mould after about a year. As I use it in the garden I don't need it to be absolutely fine.

Re the compost heap: the heaps I have in the garden are simply too big to turn over so I simply leave them to rot down in their own time and have four of the bays as pictured above so I can move on to fill another while waiting for one to rot down. Each bin is about three metres by one and a half by two and a half high.

Paddy
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newstart

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2010, 05:34:02 PM »
Okay that's great I will give it a go- should be fun , Thanks!
David in Central England. Lots more still to learn!

Peter Maguire

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2010, 10:48:47 PM »
David,
I've been using pure sycamore leafmould for several years now - it's collected in one of those noisy vacuum collectors which coarsly shreds the leaves at the same time and then left to rot down in a chicken wire enclosure weighted down as Ian described. When the next lot of leaves are ready, then the wire enclosure is emptied into heavy duty poly bags so I can use the compost area again (I'm a little tight for space!). The bags are used up over the potting season for potting compost mixes, so the leafmould is 12-18 months old when used.
It's done wonders for my potted primulas, cypripediums, arisaemas.. you name it, they've all thrived.
Peter Maguire
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newstart

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Re: Will sycamore be a good leaf mould ?
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2010, 11:58:20 AM »
Thanks Peter its very useful to get an idea of time with sycamore leaves. Much appreciated.
David in Central England. Lots more still to learn!

 


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