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Monday, October 31, 2005

Questions about Fallen Leaves as Mulch

A reader added and interesting comment to the previous post on Using Fallen Leaves as Mulch regarding whether pine needles of lemon eucalyptus might negatively effect the mulched plants.

A quick search didn't turn up much info, so I am asking any other readers to chime with their experiences. Click the link above to go directly to the previous post with comments. --Douglas


Blogger California Gardener in Zone 23 said...

Some Information About Eucalyptus Leaves and Composting.

The good news about the Internet is there is a wealth of information on any subject. The bad news is much of this information is not vetted, so there may be misinformation.

I found the first web site (http://www.compostguide.com/) which stated, eucalyptus leaves can be toxic to other plants.

Sounds like we don't want to use them.

Then I found a web site about gardening myths which contradicts the first web site.(http://www.earth911.org/master.asp?s=lib&a=organics/composting/joy/comp_chap7.inc) They say everything eventually breaks down to humus soil. The toxic nature of the leaves is a myth.


Another web site didn't speak to the toxicity of the leaves but suggested,
"Natural chemicals in citrus peels, eucalyptus leaves, and pine needles can actually slow down your compost pile - avoid mixing them into your artistic masterpiece."

Well I want my composter to be HOT and cranking out wonderful humus so I do not want to add anything which could slow it down.

Finally, I found a research project by R. D. Raabe, University of California Berkeley. The results of the project suggested that some chemicals in one species of plants when composted might inhibit the growth of other species. However, based on the findings, if the compost is diluted with other composted materials at a ratio of 25/75, the effects would be negligible.

Based on these last two web sites, I would recommend not adding large quantities of any leaves from eucalyptus trees to a compost pile.

9:36 PM  

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