Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Composted Leaves for Vegetable Garden

Question: Sandy in Berlin, NY asks:
Last fall I put a thick layer of leaf mulch on my vegetable and
annual flower garden. The leaves came mostly from our maple trees and they were run through the lawn mower blades then through a leaf blower/sucker blades, so the resulting mulch was quite well chopped up. My question is, do I have to remove it now, as in rake it off, or
should I simply move it away to plant the vegetables or should I work it into the soil? My husband thinks that if I work it into the soil then the roots of plants won't have a sturdy enough matrix to grow upright and will fall over. What do you think?

Answer:
Maple leaves as finely ground and partially composted as you describe will make an excellent addition to the organic content of your garden. This is especially true in a vegetable or annual flower garden where tilling is often an annual task. I would suggest tilling them in with a power tiller if possible to a depth of four to six inches. As these leaves continue to decompose, they will add organic matter to your garden which will attract beneficial microorganisms, help retain moisture and air and improve your soil. Maple leaves tend to be a little acidic, so later in the summer, you might want to get a soil pH test done to make sure your soil is in the 6.5 to 7.0 pH vicinity.


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