Why remove leaves if going to return compost to soil?

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by janetdoyle, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Victoria [Saanich, actually, northeast of Victoria
    I have been told that maple leaves are hostile to other plant growth, that nothing else grows beneath maple trees, lovely as they are... so I would be interested in hearing if the real experts here have any advice on this. Perhaps once composted they are ok... maybe it's just suburban myth...
  2. turtile

    turtile Member

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    Delaware US
    Leaves take a while to break down due to the high amount of carbon in comparison to nitrogen. Soil organisms break down the leaves. Since organisms are made of proteins which are made in part with nitrogen, the available nitrogen in the soil is taken up by these decomposers. The carbon is released from the leaves in the form of CO2 after it is consumed by the organisms (respiration). At a certain point, the carbon level will fall to a point in with the organism population falls, releasing the nitrogen they were locking up. The nitrogen will then be available for plants.

    If the leaves aren't well composed, they will do more harm than good if they are incorporated into the soil.

    Maple leaves actually breakdown faster than other types of leaves due to their make up. I haven't heard of any other properties that prevent plant growth.
  3. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Victoria Australia [cool temperate]
    I find the softer leaves of european trees break down quiet quickly. It's the eucalypt and pine needles that seem to take for ever. I have stuff growing under my maples and they are fine.
    Maybe our weather is better for composting because it's drier and warmer. If your leaves are soggy try and interleave them with straw or woodshavings and turn the heap regularly to let air in.

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