[Market-farming] Shredding leaves efficiently

GarlicGrower garlicgrower at green-logic.com
Wed Nov 26 09:03:56 EST 2014

Hi, Richard (and everyone else)!


I’ve had problems with unshredded leaves in the garlic, but most of the leaves around here have tended to be oak, so that could be the problem.  Garlic is my favorite crop, so I’m more nervous about it.


The chickens are coming on Monday (my 16 month old English Shepherd can’t wait!) – I’ve been advised by several sources to shred the leaves before putting them in the coop because otherwise, they will mat down too much for the deep litter method.  Interested in folks’ perspective/experience on this.


I like the idea of once the ES knows what he’s doing with the chickens, we either herd the chickens to a pile of leaves and let them go at it or I start dumping the leaves inside the chicken fence to let them shred away. 


I’m not worried about nutrient loss in the woodland as it is in the center of the farm and the ones that I’m getting are fallen into the fields and at the base of the stone wall that surrounds the woodland (suspicion is that in 1856 when the farm was created, there were pigs inside the stone wall/woodland).  I’m not actually going inside the woodland/stone wall to get them.  


Considering that this farm was abandoned in 1964 when the last farmer died, we have brush, brush, brush and the chipper/shredder has been very useful to turn that brush into mulch and compost and get rid of varmint habitat (even if we do have an ES and a Border Collie!).  But I’m all for getting the farm back into a balance where the plants and animals do more of the work and we purchase as few inputs as possible.


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and I appreciate your thoughts on these matters.




From: Market-farming [mailto:market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Richard Moyer
Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 10:14 AM
To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] Shredding leaves efficiently



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.



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