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BTU's per leaf

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by MrGriz, Oct 31, 2006.

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  1. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

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    Ok, so I'm standing knee deep in a sea of leaves in the yard, looking back and forth between them and my wood pile...A few questions / things came to mind: :roll:

    Can't we solve the whole pellet problem by compressing these little devils? Talk about supply

    What species has the most BTU's per pound? If it's maple, I might as well live in the middle of a neuclear reactor waiting to blow

    Will this pile or the OWB down the road produce more smoke? toss up

    At least you just have to rake them, not cut, split and stack them!

    Since dead trees don't produce leaves, does anyone have a real estate guide to the petrified forest? (wonder what kind of burn time you get from "rock oak")

    Oh well, they sure do look pretty this time of year and my daughter loves to jump in the piles, maybe it's not such a bad thing afterall :)

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  2. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Dont know about wood stove heat but my garden loves them and takes all mine and my other two neighbors supply.
  3. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I'm waiting for the trees in back to finish dumping them and then I'll be shredding them for the garden.
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    The garden is where they belong, for sure. I need something to mix with the grass clippings all summer long. Cooks up some nice compost.
  5. jldunn

    jldunn New Member

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    Dylan, I thought that was why they changed colors... but I'm pulling back to high school "earth science" class. I've got more fake memories than real memories from that time frame.
  6. Gibbonboy

    Gibbonboy New Member

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    Dead leaves are considered "browns". That is why tilling them into a garden in spring can rob the plants of nitrogen, as the leaves need additional to decompose. Once they are composted, they are fine. I layer shredded leaves with a sprinkling of blood meal and some cold wood ash. By the end of winter, they're beautiful compost. I also use some shredded leaves as mulch, but I don't turn it into the soil until fall, before I add some more on top.

    I don't know about compressing them into pellets, might be a collection problem. Our town composts yard waste, so I look forward to a couple loads of that every spring.
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    That's an interesting question. I'm not sure why it works--just that it does.

    If I had to hazard a guess, it would be that tree leaves contain more cellulose than grass clippings, putting fuel, at it were, into the mix.

    Seems like I never have enough of one or the other. Either I'm drowning in grass clippings, or "brown" material.

    Yes Gibbon, if you can find your municipal leaf dump, you'll have all the compost you can use. Nothing better for building soil, IMO. I usually turn it under with a shovel in the fall, then just break up the clods and plant in the spring. Once the roots hit that layer of leaf mold around mid June, they really go to town. Repeat the process in the fall, and over time watch your garden gain elevation.
  8. KateC

    KateC New Member

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    I believe the leaves are considered 'browns' because they're 'dead'--- they no longer absorb nutrients or moisture into their veins and photosynthesis has stopped---'greens', on the other hand are still doing their thing. I always notice a rapid heat increase in my compost piles after 'fresh' layers start breaking down---think the chemicals/gases that the greens give up into the pile have already been released by the leaves before they fall.

    Just having my first coffee this morning so can't manage a more technical answer yet.
  9. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    I have often wondered the same thing. Off the top of my head, I can only suspect that the leaf burning issue would have to do with all the other chemical compounds present in the leaves...the ones that lead to the thick acrid smoke when they are burned. I'm sure clean leaf burning could be done, but you would probably need a special "leaf burning" configuration with the proper air supply, burn pot, etc. When all is said and done, I'm not sure the BTU content of the leaves is worth the hassle of setting up to burn it.

    Corey
  10. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    Leaves belong in the garden or composted. It's the only mulch that's food for worms, organisms, protects, holds moisture, and as it decays it improves your soil structure. I don't usually find worms eating wood chips... they will eventually though. Leaves are really getting to be the new thing in gardening. People in the UK want leaves so bad they're stealing them from the parks disrupting the ecosystem. Leaves are all part of a healthy balanced system. Trees take nutrients from the soil, which goes to the leaves, which fall, get eaten & decomposed, turn back into nutrients, and help turn into the next cycle of leaves. If you're hauling them away, you're removing nutrients from your soil and denying bacteria and worms food that will improve your soil, aerate it naturally, and maintain its health.

    Maple, is probably the best leaves for gardening. It quickly decomposes, oak leaves are covered in a wax that resists decay and pine needles have chemicals that do similar. They're good on the ph scale, oak leaves & pine needles are acidic. So, they're high on my scale for shredding and putting directly on the garden. Oak leaves & pine needles should be composted first to neutralize their acidity. In 10-20 years I wonder if we'll be looking back telling stories about how we used to actually haul our leaves away...
  11. senorFrog

    senorFrog New Member

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    If you can read this, thank a leaf.
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I have a mix of black walnut and maple leaves. I was concerned at first about the walnut poisoning my garden plants, but the poison (juglens, or some such) apparently dissipates after a few months exposed to the elements. So, black walnut leaves (and nuts) thrown on the compost pile in the fall can be used by the following spring.

    And that's a good thing, because B. Walnut is a pretty messy tree.
  13. KateC

    KateC New Member

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    If you 'get ahead' a year with compost you won't end up with clumps. Turning it every few days through the summer while it's really cookin' will break it down even faster. Wood ash is great to add, as are coffee grounds, egg and seafood shells, and veggie trimmings/skins---no meat, bones or anything greasy---also manure of course--horse or cow usually. I always have 2 piles going---'green' and 'seasoned'---my finished pile this fall is rich, black, loose and loamy and smells wonderful.
  14. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Yes, compost is great stuff, Kate. Like you, I'm a year or two ahead--just keep adding organic matter and excavating the pile when I need some mulch or soil amendment. I noticed this year that at the very bottom of the pile, there's about 6" of pure worm castings. It looks and feels like soil, but since there are no rocks or stones, it can't be soil. Mix some-o-dat in some water and you've got one of the best ferts going. Everybody thinks I'm nuts, but I just love compost.
  15. KateC

    KateC New Member

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    I've got alot of worms but the castings don't settle because I turn it so much.
    We put up a bat-house this year---guano is the brass-ring of fertilizer so may have to put a bucket or something under the house and see if I get some.
    All I have here is sand and rocks so I'm obsessed with the compost too. Have to laugh at all the people spending money on bales of peat moss and bagged compost.
  16. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Ah Yes , "Garden TEA" I used to do this when i was a young gardener with a smaller garden. Did all my own compost and took cloth sacks filled with compost and let them sit in a 55 gallon drum of water for 4 days in the summer every 2 weeks , took the garden tea and watered the garden plants and also the flower beds.

    Garden is too large now or i just dont have the time for that much compost. I go down to the city an pick up 4 truck loads of compost ( made by strict standards ) and put 3.5 loads in the garden and .5 in the flower beds every year.
  17. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You're right, bugette--bat guano is the chit. Whatchado is take a small amount of the guano and toss it into a 5-gallon bucket (or some such), then toss in a handfull of aged compost and some molassas and either stir regularly for a day or two, or (better yet) go down to Walmart and get a $10 aquarium bubbler with an airstone, and bubble the mixture for a day or so. Then, dilute that with plain water (pref. non chlorinated), and use it to water your plants. It's called aerobic compost tea. Between the microorganisms in the guano and the compost (along with the molassas to feed them), you get a pretty good microherd for your soil.

    Not too much guano, though, because it's pretty hot.

    When I lived in the western Adirondacks it was all sand, too. It took a few years to build some decent garden soil. Now I live down in the Mohawk Valley where it's more of a clay situation. The compost and other organic matter help turn the clay into something a little easier to work with.

    Sounds like you've got a great garden, Roo. My little 25x25 space eats up a lot of my spare time, but I'd still like to double or triple it if I ever get the time and energy. Or, maybe equipment is the answer.
  18. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    All I know is that it gets the compost tea cooking, i.e., the aerobic microbes feed on it and multiply. You can tell it's working by the head of foam that forms on the surface of the water. Put it on plants and they grow better.

    Molasses is an old organic gardening staple. No snake oil that I'm aware of. You can spend a lot of money on "miracle" organic ferts and amendments that have, at their core, molasses. I prefer to buy it straight from the grocery store at about 89 cents per quart.
  19. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

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    I love this site :exclaim:
    What started out as a light hearted rant about the 'browns' covering every square inch of my yard has turned into some great information. Thanks to all of you for sharing your composting and other organic fertilizing tips! I swear, I pick up useful information reading these threads every day. :)
  20. KateC

    KateC New Member

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    I used to use horse-poop tea---5-gal. bucket half-full of fresh doo---fill w/water and let it steep. After a few days ladle about a cup into a 2-gal watering can and fill w/fresh water----very economical and the plants loved it but pretty stinky of course.

    Past places I lived were clay---needed a jackhammer to get into sometimes. Sand has it's drawbacks but it's worth it to pull a dandelion and have the whole root just slide out. We've only been here since last June and have a little over an acre---I've put alot of beds in so far but still have room for alot more---my goal is to retire the lawnmower and only need scissors for a strip along the road.
  21. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    The tea I described won't smell at all. That's the beauty of aerobic teas and compost. If you don't stir them or bubble air through the mixture, they go aerobic and stink to high heaven. Put a little oxygen in there, and you get just a slight sweet smell from the molasses. Different kinds of bugs.

    I used to grow some pretty decent carrots in sand. They don't form out nearly as straight in the clay.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    For years my favorite was rabbit poop. It's not too hot to put directly on the plants and as it broke down it warmed the soil. This gave a head start to tomatoes, etc. Also made great bunny manure tea. Now the kids are grown and we don't have rabbits, too bad, their poop is great.
  23. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I sure did.
  24. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    They say rabbit manure makes great worm food, too. I have a worm bin, but no rabbits (anymore). They do like horse manure, of course, along with stale beer (sob!) and coffee grounds.
  25. KateC

    KateC New Member

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    I try to discourage the bunnies after they gave my blue fescue a buzz-cut, but if the bats co-operate I look forward to trying your recipe, Eric---thanks.

    Trying carrots next year, and potatoes finally. If we get the greenhouse this year the seed companies are gonna love me. Had a bumper crop of tomatoes, peppers and basil this year---got enough pesto in my freezer to supply the neighborhood all winter.
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