Autumn Leaves?

hostaLes(5)November 25, 2012

Oh the nostalgia "The autumn leaves,drift by my window---"! Was that Nat King Cole who sang it?

Other than raking out a few clusters of shrubs, mine are all processed for the year. Using my rider mower to mow them intopiles of finely chopped (1/4") material, and my potting tub or leaf rake to move them to my reworked compost bins, they now occupy my 4'x4'x4' center bin which would have overflowed if all had been collected at one time. But they have composted down enough so there is a 10" space open on top. The other day the night temp dropped below freezing but by mid morning steam was coming out of the bin.

Unchopped leaves form a layer over my hosta beds that will be cleaned up in early spring and placed into my presently open 2'x4'x4' side bin on the left. The one on the right is full to the top with finishing compost that will be spread around my hostas when the leaves are removed. Hopefully all of the dormant slugs or eggs will be destroyed when the leaves are composted next spring.

When I have turned my piles I have never seen a slug in the piled materials. Some Sow Bugs (rolly-poly's)and earwigs but not slugs. Anyone know what temperature will kill slugs or their eggs?

I assume slugs would prefer to lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves rather dig into the ground so as the leaves are collected so are the slug eggs.

During the winter is it best for me to place black plastic over the composing center section to retain heat and prevent ice from displacing air and suffocating the good micro-orgasms? I realize that if we get no snow to melt to form ice it is moot, and I might have to add some water if the pile dries out, and then recover it? Is this the right approach?


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I would think this approach would work well especially adding water during dry periods and keeping a black covering over the compost.

I live where it is way colder so my thoughts are likely worth the free price to you. Here, I know that the compost bin freezes solid and nothing happens till spring when the composting process restarts. The cold never seems to eliminate the good micro organisms wherever they come from though it does successfully get rid of most garden pests at least to start the year.

My leaves around the hostas fall thick with pine and spruce needles. I don't like to leave needles around long as they make the soil highly acidic and do not break down easily. The result is that I rake away all the leaves and needles a few times over the course of the fall and leave the beds bare. This has always worked well for me though I appreciate most prefer to mulch their beds with leaves.

As an aside, first frost this fall was Sept 10 and the temps are forecast below 0F this week for the first time. We dont get much snow (the ground is bare and sun shining as I write this and the temp is 14F) but what snow we get reliably stays so in a sense it acts as the mulch.

I don't like to baby plants and prefer to grow hardy plants rather than tempermental ones - hostas among others fit that billing precisely for me.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 9:12AM
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bernd ny zone5(5)

I have three 3'x3'x3' compost bins, one contains finished compost, the other two are full of chopped leaves. All bins are wet and will freeze over winter. I have never seen slugs in a compost bin, though there are earth worms, and I saw a snake once.

My lot is only 105x 150 sqft, less than half an acre. I mowed leaves which had fallen on planting beds, and they are covering my hostas now and will remain there. But I raked all other leaves into 40 or so large paper leaf bags which will be composted by the town. I have no place to dump leaves on my small property. Therefore, I am ready for spring and need only to some touchup work in April after the snow is finally gone.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 10:07AM
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Hoo haaa, there was a "freeze warning" for our area last night, which did not materialize here. Too close to the water I suppose. It did get colder inland.

I went around the hosta display garden yesterday removing more of the fallen tree leaves, plus the dessicated hosta leaves. Not many are still green, they may go straight to the mushy stage. But, more pots are relocating into the Hosta Sanctuary every day.

Some photos of pretty hosta leaves are in my collection, but so many projects afoot these days I have yet to upload them to Flickr. Let's see if I can drop a good one on Les with all his composting work.

It won't be long now, and our first frost will be here.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 12:22PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

good call ....

in google.. insert name such as AUTUMN LEAVES.. and then YOUTUBE... and viola ...

one of my favorite voices.. and the orchestration.. to die for ...

i accuse my teen daughter.. that all her stuff is thumpy, thumpy boom spit ... lol ...

perhaps the only who could do it better.. would be andy williams .... at this link .. i like the accordian .. or whatever it is.. very french cafe .. lol:


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 11:06AM
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Most of my "autumn leaves" go straight to brown with no pause in the golden or crimson range. The bananas are different I suppose.

I listened to both recordings of that classic song, like a haiku poem....and I remember foggy days with drops of fog forming on my eyelashes, like tears. This really represents the angst I feel every September when an indefinable yearning to begin a new school year would take hold of me, after my school years had ended. More than January, autumn is the time to make new beginnings, or sigh for the loss of new beginnings.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 3:47PM
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gogirlterri(5 IL)

Thanks Ken for the links.
Moc: I feel that way when I remember the four-window cartoon called "Indian Summer". You could see an image of a Native American in the smoke. I don't know if it was nationally syndicated or property of the Chicago Tribune. They printed it every September, and I still smell the sweatness of burning leaves.
I am a hopeless romantic! I haven't seen it in years. I guess it is both politically and environmentally inappropriate, but they can't make memories illegal! Can they? In these days I sometimes wonder!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 8:58AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

come on gogirl

ever hear of google.. see link ... and look for the CLICK TO EXPAND button ... everything is on the web.. lol ...

and.. you were right


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 12:33PM
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Babka(9b NorCal)

I grew up with that cartoon, and loved it so. Thank you, Theresa, and thank you, Ken, for providing the link. I'm sending that one along to many of my old friends who grew up in the Chicago area. No burning of leaves around here. They'd toss me in jail.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 2:32PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

wonder what the footprint difference is between giant composting machines .. front end loaders.. trucking ... both to the composter.. and back to the garden.. i mean really.. this stuff just doesnt show up in the facility .. and break down on a hope and a dream ....see link. and editorial below ...

versus one match .. a rake.. and some good old fashioned fall incense and excersize???

bet if someone worked it all out.. we would all be burning ... given the space to do it properly ...


Here is a link that might be useful: trucked in.. front end loader.. tub grinder ... turned once a week with a strattle wind row turner??? ...front end loader into the trammel screen ... then the front end loader to the grinder ... crimeney.. when will the footprint end .. then of course.. front end loader.. to bag it in heavy plastic bags ... its just endless ... lol.. one stinking match ... no diesel ... 50 less truck engines .... what was the topic again.. oh.. pretty music.. i think i digressed ... lol

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 7:08PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Les, my compost bins (a lot of leaves/carbon right now but some N) are left uncovered all winter, but I will add kitchen scraps to it all winter. It composts as weather permits.

Ken, I didn't know one could have a paragraph for a link name, lol. If you add up all the raw leaves and all the matches and all the smoke it might be a wash.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 10:58PM
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I saw the pile of brown paper bags of leaves from the Chelmsford township piled up in an area opposite Jones Nursery last year when I was up that way. No front end loaders if the collection area is not all that big, right? And, there they remained looking like the new bags were piled on the bags from previous years, in very decomposed state. Perhaps they can rock along like that until nature takes its course.

Down here in south Alabama, hope you are not tired of me saying this, but when we first moved to this house, the derelict garage was full of decomposed leaves (no roof), and I hauled them to the front and created a half-moon flower bed. Well, I mean I piled them up there, then left for about six months to go to Massachusetts. By the time I returned, the worms had worked their magic on that bed, and I never had to dig it. Before that, it had been hard as a rock. Standing on the shovel had not worked. Now, it is kept with a layer of mulch, and some cow manure about once a year. The day lilies love it.

Don't suppose such a plan would work where you freeze and have snow cover most of the winter.

Never heard of the Injun Summer poem. About as "politically correct" as the Uncle Remus tales of Joel Chandler Harris, and that keeps the Disney movie "Song of the South" out of circulation too. Our social history is a mixed bag true enough.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 12:19AM
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Not sure if this is what you were looking for to but this came up when I was looking for it on the internet.

As far as compost we use all our leaves and I have lots from 14 lombardy popular, 2 weeping willow and about 14 large maple . The compost bin is full in the fall and by spring has gone down to about half. Garden is covered with about 6 inches of chopped leaves and all dug into the garden and gone to compost the following spring too. Wonderful addition to our clay that is like a thick gumbo. I don't recall any smell from around the 4x6x6 bin and when it is done it is like black gold( with the odd egg shell I forgot to crush)I suppose is a bit more difficult on a city lot but with loads of room I use it all except what I share with my friend Myrle(McTavish)Plants sure do love it and cuts down on purchasing it from the stores

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 4:35PM
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gogirlterri(5 IL)

That's it Faye, I thought it was a 4 panel but it isn't. I never thought of it as in any way demeaning. Our native caretakers certainly did and still do a better job than we do in caring for 'Mother Earth' than we do and that is what I see in 'Injun Summer'. That is what I got out of seeing it year after year. It represents a celebration of life of our earth. My mind can envision their spirtis in the steam coming off of a compost bin as 'Injun Summer' does in the haze the smoke of burning autumn leaves.
ken is on the right track. Remember the gloom and doom predicted when Mt. St. Helens covered the earth with its spewing minerals? And what was the result? Record crops from the replenished soil.
I hope you enjoyed 'Injun Summer' as I do. Thank you.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 1:19AM
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