The Q&A Archives: Composting Oak Leaves

Question: I am told that oak leaves are too acidic to use in vegetable gardens or around most shrubs and flowers. Is there anything that can be added to compost to neutralize this acidity, or can this compost be used freely?

Answer: Actually, oak leaves are most satisfactory for composting, despite their acidity. Since they can be slow to break down, if possible shred the leaves first, either with a shredder or by running your lawn mower over them a few times. Also, be sure to layer the leaves with a nitrogen source like manure to speed decomposition.

Consider having a soil test done, to determine your soil's acidity level. Your Cooperative Extension Service (ph# 314-789-5391) should offer soil test kits. The test results will give you recommendations on adjusting your soil's pH. I would use the compost freely--and test the soil every few years to monitor your soil's pH.

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