[Market-farming] Shredding leaves efficiently

Richard Moyer ramoyer at gmail.com
Tue Nov 25 10:14:13 EST 2014

> Dorene,
Have been watching, then helping my father mulch with UNshredded leaves for
50 years, and doing my own plantings for 30 years.  With mixed hardwood
leaves, mostly unshredded.

Yes shredded leaves take less space. And they don't blow as much.  But if
you can get to them as needed in the center of your farm, and they largely
will stay put, can you gather them as needed, and shred as needed, for
intended use?

You want efficiency?  On our farm, chickens are our most efficient leaf
shredders.  They delight in this, expressing their 'chicken-ness', and
keeps them from being bored when ground is covered in snow or frozen.
Harvey Ussery uses WHOLE leaves as deep bedding for his poultry.

As for garlic emergence through whole leaves, if you mulch with more maple
and hickory leaves and less oak in the mix, can pile deeper, as the former
two are thinner leaves, and more easily penetrated by emerging garlic
shoots.  Large oak leaves tend to mat together and can hinder garlic
emergence.  But even shredded leaves can hinder garlic emergence, if too
thick, or have formed an inter-locking layer.  Either way, I walk along and
'free' the occasional garlic shoot that is hung up in the leaves, relative
to its neighbors.

Not that I want to take you and yours away from modern 'human-ness' of
playing with purchased farm toys, such as your BCS  chipper/shredder.  Just
suggesting you step back and consider what the animals or plants can do on
their own, with a bit of management and observation on your part.

One more thought.  Few farmers actively fertilize wooded areas on their
farms.  If removing many leaves, beware of nutrient cycles and potential
nutrient loss, over time.  Of course, if livestock take shelter in the
woods during parts of the year, they oft are taking nutrients in, in highly
bioavailable forms.  A soil test from your woods can identify any trace
nutrient deficiencies, some of which can be addressed with a hand spreader,
without much cost or time.

Out to dump a load of leaves from nearby town, and pick up another. Can
identify with Joel and Daniel Salatin, confessed "carbon fiends".
Richard Moyer

> Message: 2
> Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2014 07:52:05 -0500
> From: GarlicGrower <garlicgrower at green-logic.com>
> To: 'Market Farming' <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Subject: [Market-farming] Shredding Leaves Efficiently
> Message-ID: <000001d0071c$4a8bf7b0$dfa3e710$@green-logic.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> Hi, Folks!
> We have an acre of oak/hickory/maple woodland in the middle of our farm and
> the leaves are relatively easy to gather.  I wanted to shred them both for
> the chickens I'm getting (deep litter method) and for mulch for the garlic.
> What's your most efficient way of shredding lots of leaves?
> We have a BCS with a BIO-150 chipper/shredder, but the leaves keep getting
> jammed in the shredder chute.  We're using a pole to stir the leaves to get
> them to the blades, but if there is a more efficient way to shred an acre's
> worth of leaves, I'm all ears.
> Thanks!
> Dorene
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