General Discussion:

oak leaves

Messages posted to thread:

Laurel01-May-02 07:42 PM EST 7a   
Susan01-May-02 09:05 PM EST 6a   
Richard Weatherill01-May-02 09:25 PM EST 7b   

Subject: oak leaves
From: Laurel
Zone: 7a
Date: 01-May-02 07:42 PM EST

I'm new to the gardening world, as I've just taken over my grandfather's house and garden and we have two large oak trees on the property. He's always composted the leaves, but I've heard through a semi-reliable source that they are poisonous to other plants while composting, as are rubarb leaves and that I should not compost either of them. Is there any truth in this?

Subject: RE: oak leaves
From: Susan
Zone: 6a
Date: 01-May-02 09:05 PM EST

I think you may be confusing oak leaves with walnut leaves. Walnut trees produce juglone, a chemical that inhibits growth of many other plants. Oak leaves are a bit acidic and break down slowly, but are fine in compost. Chopping the oak leaves before adding them to the compost will help them break down faster. Shredded oak leaves make good mulch for acid loving plants like rhododendrons and blueberries.

Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid which is what makes the rhubarb leaves poisonous. Large quantities of the leaves could kill off some of the organisims that help with making the compost but a few leaves in the compost heap aren't likely to do much damage. So, use your judgement... Whenever I pick rhubarb for making pies, I throw the leaves in the compost and have never noticed any problems. If I had a really large rhubarb patch and was harvesting on a commercial scale, I wouldn't compost that sort of volume of leaves....

Subject: RE: oak leaves
From: Richard Weatherill (
Zone: 7b
Date: 01-May-02 09:25 PM EST

We have several oaks in our yard, as do the neighbours in theirs, and it seems we are the recipient of all of these trees. We compost the large majority of the leaves, and seldom bother to chop them up, yet they decompose within the year. I turn the compost frequently, and put everything into it, both kitchen scraps and yard and grass clippings. Not a problem here!

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