The Beauty of Leaf Mold

Instead of carting off your tree leaves to the landfill, or recycling them in a yard debris bin, why not improve your soil by making leaf mold?  Leaf mold is made from decayed tree leaves;  it’s easy to make, it’s free and it improves your soil!leaf mold bin

How Leaf mold helps:

  1. Adds trace minerals to the soil
  2. Reduces rainwater runoff, and evaporation
  3. Retains moisture. Leaf mold hold 50% of it’s own weight in water
  4. Loosens compacted soils
  5. Cools roots and foliage during hot weather
  6. Improves habitat for soil dwellers, such as earthworms & beneficial bacteria
  7. As mulch it helps control weeds
  8. Saves you money by using less fertilizer and less water

Methods:

Build a 3-4 foot tall wire-fence enclosure, fill it up with leaves, add water, cover with cardboard, mix occasionally if you want to, but it’s not necessary and in two years the leaves break down into a rich brown weed-free mulch.

To speed up the process:  Place your wire bin in a semi-shaded area, shred your leaves, add some nitrogen like grass clippings, coffee grounds, or a 1/2 cup of high nitrogen fertilizer, like urea, then cover leaves with a piece of cardboard.
Note: If you don’t own a leaf shredder, then make a pile of leaves and run over them with your lawnmower several times. You should have leaf mold in 9-12 months.

You can also make leaf mold using large plastic bags. Fill large bags half full with leaves, add two cups of coffee grounds, or a ¼ cup urea fertilizer.  Wet leaves thoroughly.  Tie the top,  poke holes in the sides for lots of air flow.  Stack bags in warm location, shake occasionally to mix. You could have leaf mold as soon as 2 months.

After leaves have decomposed, incorporate your leaf mold directly into the garden soil, and/or mulch around your plants. You can also mix it with potting soil to use in container gardens.

Note: Do not use these Walnut, Eucalyptus, or Camphor Laurel leaves for leaf mold. They contain growth-inhibitors, and are toxic to other plants.

Oak leaves take longer to break down, so it’s best to shred them.

Composting guide:  http://compostguide.com/using-leaves-for-composting/

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Leaf Mold : http://making-mulch-from-leaves

Article by : Carlotta Lucas

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Garden of the Month: August 2017

The garden that Jacob Gougé has created around the home he shares with his wife and LR 5-17daughter at 240 N. First St. reflects both his creativity and his respect for living things.  It is the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for August.  Over the 17 years they have lived there, Gougé has salvaged and bartered the materials to create terracing in the back, define garden beds, build a fire pit, display interesting artifacts, and more on this small lot.   It was bare dirt when they moved in.  He is very resourceful.

But Jacob has a generous spirit as well that prompts him to offer lilacs to passersby, share cuttings of his many succulents with those who ask, and invite admiring strangers inside the gate to see the whole garden.

IMG_2993Along with two smaller lilacs elsewhere in front, there is a huge lilac bush in the northwest corner of the fenced area.  Many of the branches of this lilac are five or more inches in diameter and have an unusual shredded bark.  This lilac bush is strong enough to support one end of two hammocks!

There are extraordinary ceramic pieces throughout the property, most of them created by Gougé.  He also pursues all manner of artistic expression via painting, sewing, beading,and other media. In addition, Jacob makes interesting planters for succulents out of stones or gnarled wood in which he drills holes to plant materials and for drainage.

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Food crops are concentrated in the back yard, that Jacob calls his “in town farm.”  This garden is 100% organic.  He grows lettuce all year, protecting the yield from the blazing sun at this time of year with a colorful umbrella.  He also grows asparagus, squash, carrots, snap peas, herbs of many varieties, and much more, often in recycled containers. He starts most plants from seeds in a hot box.  The family has three healthy chickens that provide eggs as well as droppings for compost.IMG_3001FullSizeRender 3

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Recycling Nursery Pots

With the Grange Coop, Recology, and Rogue Disposal & Recycling no longer accepting nursery pots, where can you take them? 20170629_191151

Lowes Home Improvement, Hwy 62, Medford –  Accepts all sizes of nursery pots.

Four Seasons Nursery, 5736 Crater Lake Ave, Central Point, Oregon – Accepts one gallon or larger plastic nursery pots.

Southern Oregon Nursery – Accepts pots that are 10 gallons or larger.

The Garden Shoppe, 2327 Charles Ln, Medford, Oregon – located on the south side of the Thunderbird parking lot.

Rogue Valley Grower’s Market: Accepts pots, but check with them first for which sizes.

Composting Dos & Don’ts

Alternate layers of nitrogen-rich greens & carbon-rich browns.

Greens:

• Vegetable peelings
• Rotten fruit & Fruit Peelings
• Leaves & Grass ( green & dry)
• Coffee grounds &  Tea leaves
• Manure from vegetarian pets: rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, sheep, horses,cows, llamas, etc.

Browns:

• Dry leaves, grass and plant stalks
• Shredded newsprint (non-toxic inks only),
• Shredded Brown Paper bags,
• Unbleached paper towels, napkins, wet is okay, greasy no!
• Cardboard ( small pieces)
• Corncobs
• Straw
 
You can also add:
• Rinsed, crushed eggshells
• Pet hair, to help discourage rodents
• Dryer lint
• Wood ash

Tips:

• Select a level, partially-shaded spot for your bin with good water drainage. Be sure it is at least 8 in – 12 in away from walls, fences, bushes, doors and windows.
• Cut kitchen scraps up into smaller pieces – faster decomposition.
• Whenever you add any food layer, top it off with brown material. Keep a pile of dry browns near the bin to sprinkle on top each time you add kitchen scraps.
• The beneficial microorganisms in your pile need oxygen. If too compacted (like in a landfill), they produce methane as they decompose, which is a greenhouse gas. Leave lots of air space in your bin and mix the contents every week or two with an aerator tool, or an old broom handle.
• Collect dry leaves and grass in a separate, dry container. Then you can use them year-round.
• Compost is generally ready to use after two or three months but aging the pile another one to two months before putting it on lawns or garden will improve it.
 

DON’Ts:

WHY? They attract rodents & other pests and cause odor problems.
 
AVOID ADDING THESE TO YOUR COMPOST:
    • Grease, oils or fats.
    • Bread or bread products
    • Rice
    • Pastas
    • Salad dressings or sauces
    • Dairy products
    • Nuts or nut butters
    • Fish
    • Meat
    • Bones
    • Dog or cat feces, kitty litter, human waste – Meat-eating animals, including humans,  carry diseases, and kitty litter may contain chemicals.
    • Ash from barbecues or coal Contains harmful chemicals.
   • Weeds with mature seeds. When you spread the compost, you’ll spread those weeds, to your garden.
    • Treated wood products May contain harmful chemicals.
 

Troubleshooting:

SYMPTOM DIAGNOSIS TREATMENT
Compost is attracting pests: dogs, rodents, raccoons. Improper materials added. Use a pest-resistant bin.
Put kitchen scraps in the center of the pile and cover with soil.
 
Compost pile is wet and stinky, too much green material. Add brown material. Turn pile. Insufficient covering.
Put scraps at the center of the pile.
 
Pile is dry too much brown material. Not enough water.
Add fresh kitchen scraps. Moisten with water.
Cover pile to reduce evaporation.
 
Pile is cold Lack of nitrogen. Add green materials such as
grass clippings, kitchen scraps.
 
Compost is attracting flies. Food scraps are exposed. Cover green material with browns. Avoid adding grease, oils, meats, breads, etc (see checklist above). Cover food scraps with soil or brown material. Put kitchen scraps in the center of the pile.