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Posted: 11/15/2008 7:49:53 AM EDT
Normally I'd compost them but the bins are full, can I just till them into the garden for next season or do I risk introducing disease?
Link Posted: 11/15/2008 7:57:57 AM EDT
I read somewhere that if you over do it, there will be less nitrogen in your spring soil.

Link Posted: 11/15/2008 8:04:01 AM EDT
Till them in.  If you can mulch them first all the better.
Link Posted: 11/15/2008 8:50:13 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/15/2008 8:51:41 AM EDT by REELDOC]
Mulch first, then till. Put the leaves in about a foot deep at a time and use your mower to chop them up. Don't wait worry about the nitrogen it can be replaced in the spring when you plant. More important to get the humus in now.

Before you do anything it would be good to get a soil test into your local ag extension office.
Link Posted: 11/15/2008 1:03:47 PM EDT
i always till in a layer of leaves and grass clippings as well as the newspaper that ive used between rows to keep down the weeds in the fall.
Link Posted: 11/15/2008 1:42:31 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/15/2008 1:50:27 PM EDT by Kitties-with-Sigs]
Originally Posted By jj01:
Normally I'd compost them but the bins are full, can I just till them into the garden for next season or do I risk introducing disease?


If you till them in now they will be somewhat composted by spring.    You may need to add nitrogen or you may not.   This should not introduce disease unless you're tilling in something that a) you know has disease and b) said disease will affect the garden plants you will be growing on that spot.  The chance of a and b coinciding are not very high.  Generally the problems with disease occurs when people do things like till in their old uncomposted  tomato vines, potato vines, squash vines, etc––all which harbor disease that will then affect THOSE SAME CROPS when they're planted back there in the spring.  If you're tilling in leaves of shade trees, the disease issue is probably not going to be a factor.

The most important thing to know is what KIND of leaves you're considering tilling in.  What kind of trees do you have?  Some leaves contain chemicals that will have a negative effect on your garden plants.  Most don't, but some do.

Another method is to till in some, then rake a mulching layer of leaves over the top and leave it like mulch until spring.  THEN till in the second layer.  This will mean you will CERTAINLY require additional N in the spring.  I do this to suppress winter weed growth (the only thing that grows in Kentucky in the winter is weeds) But not everyone likes this method.  I am a proponent of mulch, and if I have enough leaves to do both––till in and mulch––then I do both, and plan on supplementing my N in the spring.

Kitties

ETA:

Reeldoc said:

and use your mower to chop them up


Yes, do this if you can.  The smaller you can chop up the leaf parts, the quicker they'll break down.  That's what you want––the leaves broken down into a sort of compost.

Regarding the soil test, this is a good thing to establish a base line for what you have naturally on your property.  Make sure you state on the test when you send it in that you plan to use the plot for a veggie garden.   BE AWARE that by doing this "chop up leaves and til in" process, you are going to cause a shift in that soil over the period of a few months––so you're going to have something different in the spring than you are starting with now, so you'll need to test again.  It's a great education for six bucks a pop, in my opinion,  but a lot of folks balk at that small cost.  

Link Posted: 11/15/2008 3:59:47 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/15/2008 4:02:41 PM EDT by REELDOC]
Kittie is right. I should have gone on to say that you can get a soil test now AND then a couple weeks before you plant. You will have a good baseline of the current soil condition and what the soil condition was after a good mess of humus was added. By fall you will have gone through a good crop and another test at that time will tell you what the nutrient depletion was.

On disease, you probably already have most of the diseases in the soil that you will ever have unless you bring in transplants from the outside that have something else on them. This happened to me when I brought in bell peppers with bacterial spec. Now I'm going to have to move my peppers to my front yard for a couple of years to see if it will go away in the number one garden soil.
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 1:12:22 PM EDT
I have a realy bad time with squash borers, and if I get any tomato disease, I seem to have trouble on my present plot that lasts across years so now I try to get ALL of the vines and plant residues out of there.  

This was not so in my older gardens.  I've been really frustrated recently.  
Link Posted: 11/21/2008 7:42:56 AM EDT
till 'em all in.
the tilling tears em up and the freeze/thaw action of the snow/freeze/ice will have them down to nothing flat
They add to the soil considerably.

And why would you need to add more nitrogen?  what do you think leaves are?  It's not branches, it's leaves.  Leaves are just like grass, it's the green side.

Link Posted: 11/21/2008 10:05:03 AM EDT
When you add any type of organic matter to soil––if it needs to be broken down––the bacteria that do the breaking down actually USE nitrogen to do the breaking down, so for a certain period after the addition of any type of organic matter that isn't completely composted already, you can create yourself a nitrogen shortage and often you have to supplement.

Depending on the location/freeze thaw cycles and all that, just as you say, it COULD come back into balance by spring.  But might not.  

Lots of times folks will add stuff like grass clippings or chopped up debris to their gardens in early spring and till it in, then end up with pale green plants, cuz the nitrogen that the plants should be getting is all getting sucked up by the bacteria working hard to break down the organic materials.

It's hard to say what'll happen though as it varies from location to location, size and type of material mixed into the soil, and the climate and all that other stuff.  Gardenin' on the internet is kinda like weather guessin.

Link Posted: 11/21/2008 10:11:04 AM EDT
Originally Posted By jj01:
Normally I'd compost them but the bins are full, can I just till them into the garden for next season or do I risk introducing disease?


And BTW, can I just say that I am insanely jealous that you have a) compost bins and b) they are full.



I accomplished nothing in my gardens or flower beds this year.  Noth. Ing.  
Link Posted: 11/21/2008 11:29:56 AM EDT
I am trying something a little different this year with on of my gardens.  I just pilled mulched up leaves on top of the soil.  I'll just leave them there all winter and till them into the soil in the spring.
Link Posted: 11/21/2008 2:29:46 PM EDT
Originally Posted By pyro6988:
I am trying something a little different this year with on of my gardens.  I just pilled mulched up leaves on top of the soil.  I'll just leave them there all winter and till them into the soil in the spring.



The only thing that I wouldn't like about that is the possibility of reducing oxygen exchange in the soil, but it should keep the weeds in check. Let us know how this method turns out.
Link Posted: 11/21/2008 3:50:46 PM EDT
If they're very thick, they may turn anaerobic and stink––but once they're tilled in, it'll work okay I think.  Just be stinky.

I do this in my gardens though––as winter weed control.  As long as they're not real thick it works fine in my climate.
Link Posted: 11/22/2008 10:40:01 AM EDT
I threw some newspapers on the garden and then put leaves/grass clippings on top.  I hope it works.  I might till it under in the spring if neccessary.
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