Mid Atlantic Gardening forum: Leafgro Compost

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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Sep 25, 2016 6:48 AM CST
I have question. Last year, I created new framed raised beds from old ones (to enclose the garden with chicken wire due to groundhog a squirrel destruction).

Because the new framed beds were higher, I added about 4" of a local nursery half and half topsoil and Leafgro mix.

My corn stopped at 2', my beans were like 3 meals the entire season, the cukes were pollywogs, the heirloom tomatoes were the least ever (and even my backup hybrid tomato 'Big Beef' died), and the melons just sat and sulked, etc, etc, etc. Even the zucchini wouldn't bear fruit past a couple of inches.

I had amended the soil with 2-6-6 organic fertilizer with a bit of 6-0-0 WOW for the corn. I know how to water properly and all that; I've been gardening for 40 years.

Do you suppose there was something in the topsoil or the Leafgro? I'm both baffled and worried.
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Sep 25, 2016 11:21 AM CST

Moderator

hi, Yardenman. I am mostly a pollinator gardener, but @Newyorkrita is a big veggie gardener!! Tagging her here.
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
Sep 25, 2016 12:21 PM CST
That surely is totally weird. Your veggies should have taken off like gangbusters.

I am not familiar with Leafgrow mix so Googled it. Claims to be organic. I dod find this link explaining Herbicide contaminated Compost.

https://extension.umd.edu/learn/gardener-alert-beware-herbic...

Sure does sound like this might have been your problem.

I would say add as much clean organic matter as you possibly can. Shredded fall leaves tilled into the soil would be a free alternative.

I avoid lawn clippings unless they are from my own lawn.
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Sep 25, 2016 1:01 PM CST

Moderator

Thanks for that link, Rita--good thing to know about!! Crying
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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sallyg
Sep 26, 2016 9:33 PM CST
Note in the linked article 'grasses including sweet corn.are not affected.. by those herbicides."
And the writer doesn't cite any confirmation of finding the chemicals in the examples he attributes to them. I'm not trying to trash my beloved U MD extension. It just wouldn't hold up in court based on his anecdotal examples.

I don't know any other reason why you had such a bad year, when you're very experienced in gardening. Was this year any better?
This is my second year of 'polliwog' (stunted pointed) cucumbers myself, after plenty of success before. And my Cherokee Purple grew poorly, Mortgage Lifter not that great either, while Early Girl were fantastic. Absolutely NO herbicides or 'foreign' mulches or manures came anywhere near any of my gardens.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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sallyg
Sep 26, 2016 9:38 PM CST
The article also says Leafgro regularly tests and has not found those chemicals.in the leafgro.

It still could have been in the topsoil portion of your purchased mix.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier
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crawgarden
Sep 26, 2016 10:06 PM CST
Thought the "WOW" products had corn gluten, a pre emergent in them.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
Sep 27, 2016 11:01 AM CST
It is a puzzle.

I wonder if you could set up your garden in another area next spring. And then just keep tilling in lots of clean compost into the other area. Might even try cover crops to till in. If they grow you know you should be good to go.
Name: Mike
Baltimore, MD (Zone 7b)
Organic Gardener Herbs Vegetable Grower Permaculture
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EvergreenMike
Sep 27, 2016 12:04 PM CST
Earlier in the year I was sourcing soil for my beds as well. One of the options I considered was a 50/50 leafgro/topsoil from a local material yard. I ended up passing on it because I found their soil portion to be very low quality. It was mainly clay and full of trash debris (likely had other industrial/urban chemicals as well). It seemed like they added the leafgro to disguise the poor soil and get more money for it than they would for selling it as fill dirt (though that's just my suspicion). Maybe your problem was similar? I ended up sourcing some nice topsoil and adding the leafgro from bags myself.
Name: Rick Moses
Derwood, MD (Zone 7b)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Region: Maryland Hostas Ferns
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RickM
Sep 28, 2016 3:57 PM CST
And I'll bet the leafgro portion wasn't legit either.

We've been making our own 'leaf gro' for the past 10 or so years thanks to the chipper/shredder that Larry got me for Christmas one year. We collect all of the yard trim/debris over the year into a pile or two in the back. When it's dry enough, we haul out the chipper and run it all through. The result is either spread around, or lef tin piles ot slowly break down to be used in the beds. Unfortunately, with us both getting on in years, especially Larry, we just don't run as much through as we used to. He's been hiring a leaf removal service for the past 5 year to haul most of the leaves away. Although, that may change this year as he's noticed the water erosion starting to happen because the ground is exposed.
What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. Charles Dudley Warner
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Oct 9, 2016 4:00 AM CST
I erred completely in saying I added WOW to my garden beds. Abject apologies, I Don't know where my mind was at at the moment. I should have said I just added N-Lite 2-6-6 and CALCIUM from powdered eggshells I had saved all Winter.

I use WOW only in my perennial beds where I don't plant new seeds.

I am going to add 2" of pure Leaf-Gro compost this month, fork it lightly into the soil, add worms, and cover the beds with perforated brown paper to allow rainfall through to encourage but protect worm activity.

And RickM, I may have to revert to composting myself because I KNOW my yard is organic and I don't know for sure about the commercial products. But Rick, why would you ever have leaves hauled away? I just mow mine several times and they disappear into the lawn and woods. The trees depend on reusing their leaves each Summer. That's their natural nutrient cycle! I suspect most trees die too young from using up the soil nutrients that they lose from removed leaves.

I will be covering the paths between the beds with solid brown paper to supress weeds and possibly disturb insect pests.

I would grow cover crop on the framed beds, but I've tried that before and quite frankly, it is too hard to get the darn stuff OUT! Or am I looking at how to use that wrong? It is good if you are growing corn or tomatoes, but difficult for small crops like carrots. I do square foot gardening where crops are ll mixed together.







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