DO OAK LEAVES RUIN COMPOST?

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by Fawn and Fam, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. Fawn and Fam

    Fawn and Fam Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The oak leaves are falling off the trees and into my compost bin. I am concerned that they will ruin my compost because of their acidity. Is that true? What should I do?
     
  2. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They compost very well. Just make sure to keep your green ingredients up.
    My in-laws used oak leaves to mulch their garden every fall, by spring the leaves were fairly broken down and after 10 years or so the soil was almost spongy. They grew the best hot peppers I have ever had - hot but very flavorful!
     
  3. Fawn and Fam

    Fawn and Fam Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That makes me feel better because I learned somewhere (I can't remember exactly) that other leaves were fine to compost but not oak because of their acidity. They are terrible for the lawn and destroy it.
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    A lot of people have lots of ideas about what shouldn't go in the compost pile. To my knowledge, the only leaves that I wouldn't add would be black walnut. That the leaves are falling in your compost instead of you having to rake them and add them... that's a bonus! I like to go to the transfer station and get a truck load of leaves to add to my garden every year. I throw in a couple of shovelfuls of urea, wet them down, cover with plastic and let them cook all winter... in my very cold zone 4 climate. By spring, they're on their way to being a great mulch or compost.
     
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Those of us who market garden professionally in northern climes only have oak leaves or we'd have no leaves at all. LOL

    Nothing a little fire box ashes or some calcium lime wouldn't cure anyhow.
     
  6. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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  7. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    Dh said the oak have a lot of tannin which is a problem. IT is why it was used in tanning. SHoudl be ok for the compost though. Didn't really get an answer about the effect on the grasses.
     
  8. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have heard not to compost black walnut because they contain a chemical that will kill other plants ... we don't have black walnut trees so I can't verify this.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  9. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    The nut trees are an issue. When I started picking up shavings from a local cabinet maker, that was my first question. THere is something poisonous about it-- and I"m sorry I cna't remember the details anymore.
     
  10. Dreyadin

    Dreyadin Out Of The Brooder

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    Jugone- it is the chemical produced by trees in the juglans family (black walnut, butternut, heartnut, English/Carpathian walnuts, etc.) It's produced by the trees as a means of natural chemical warfare. Some plants can handle it (like wild black raspberries, elderberry, gooseberry, etc.) while other can't take it at all.. like many fruit trees, veggies, etc.

    We have a lot of black walnut trees (almost 30 acres.) If *WELL* composted- the juglone breaks down and it is fine to use. Big problems come with the trees in that you can figure about a 40 foot radius from the trunk is going to be the danger zone for sensitive plants. Removing the tree.. you'll have to wait many years until the stump/ roots decompose. (Black walnuts used to be one of those trees people used as an indicator about the soil in the region. Black walnuts like rich, fertile, well drained soil. Around here they were/ sometimes are- used as a "retirement crop". At about 35 years they are at peak production for nuts- which sell for quite a bit.. and the trees themselves can go for several thousand each as lumber.)

    Oak leaves.. fine to use. They tend to be a bit acidic- but that shouldn't be much of an issue if you are adding other things to your compost heap. The tannins in them make them astringent- but it too breaks down (it just might take a bit longer if that is mostly what is in your pile. Run them over with your mower to shred them and it will speed up the process.)
     

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