Chemicals that speed decomposition

I have a large (huge) leaf pile in my backyard that I want to get rid of. I don’t want to cart it away, as I want usable soil. And I cannot burn it, because they are too wet and it is against city ordinance.

What chemicals can I apply to it to speed up the natural bioegration? I was thinking about Ammonium nitrate, but I am not sure about it. Would a fertilizer do it? I don’t want to spend hordes of money either. And worm mulching is kinda hard on something that big. Can anyone help me?

Well putting chemicals would not be doing it naturally. now about tossing a binch of newspaper over it and than a bunch of dirt.I just was cheching something out on cable yesterday that did it that way.I really don’t think there is a speedy way.I have a place in my backyard i pile all the grass and leaves.It is something that takes months to do.You could also take a drive to a bait store and dump a dozen nightcrawlers inder there to get it going too .

Or you could go here and get some info.

I have many hardwood trees, including several giant oak trees. My fall leaf problem is enormous, so I know from where I speak. (Take your worst case leaf nightmare and go up an order of magnitude.)

There are some very important things to keep in mind.

  1. Unchopped leaves take forever to break down. I use a blower/vac. I blow into piles and then suck them up, which chops them in the process. My chopped leaf piles are pretty much decomposed by late June here in Atlanta, depending on the (currently offended) Rain Gods.

  2. Mixing helps a lot. I only need to do a couple hand turn-overs. Use a pitchfork or similar tool. For whole leaves I’ve used a rototiller but it’s a pain.

  3. Moisture is key. Not too wet or too dry. Leaves on top tend to pack flat and shed rain, letting the interior dry out. Keep the top of the pile mixed and loose. I like to pile up on a spot where a lot of runoff passes thru (and doesn’t collect). Earthworm heaven.

Put stuff on that will get things going. The cheapest, and most readily available stuff is called “dirt”. Contains all the micro-organisms necessary to start composting.

Big Time Composting People (who want it done in a month) talk about carbon (leaves) vs. nitrogen (grass clippings)
and having a blend etc. I think that’s why you’re thinking about Am. Nitrate. I’ve tried it. I saw no impact.

Chop, mix, moisture. This is your mantra.

FtG aka GLP

I thought you were talking about animal matter, not plant matter. Not that I know anything about it anyway. As far as I know, putting quicklime on a body or body parts in your bathtub or a 55-gallon drum may or may not speed decomposition. I really don’t know.

Composting is the most responsible way of dealing with a pile of organic matter. It’s been awhile, but i seem to recall using lime to speed up the process.

Umm, my opinion is not chemicals, ask your local nursery about buy insects or annelids that speed the ‘digestion’ process.

Your local hardware store or nursery should sell enzymes that will decompose a pile of leaves in about 60-90 days. They are all natural, so you don’t have to worry about the environment.

Another good additive–beer. Adding beer to the pile will kick-start it into decomposition mode. You can use any brand. This is a good way to get rid of skunked beer, BTW.

Got earthworms? Dump them on the pile and let them feast.

With all the above, it’ll help if you can contain the pile inside a porous container, like a circle of chicken wire. This will help hold in the heat created by decomposition and allow oxygen to get in, both of which helps grow the bacteria that eat the leaves. Also, keep it moist (not soaking); dry material doesn’t rot very well. If you can, throw in some grass clippings and other vegetable matter and–son of a gun, you’ve got a compost heap!

ftg had it when they said chop 'em up all fine. The last post also had it when they said make the deal out of chicken wire. You also can get an old plastic trash can and cut a bunch of holes in the side, or use that plastic barrier crap that lookes like cyclone fencing. Beer works great, and if you add chicken crap it works good as well. I’ve also heard of adding one beer to a 2 liter bottle of cheap cola (not diet, though). In any case, be sure to turn the pile every week or so.

Being a lazy person I simply use my mulching mower and chop them to bits.

john_e_wagner wrote:

>> Being a lazy person I simply use my mulching mower and chop them to bits.

You are obviously at the opposite end of the leaf sprectrum from myself and possibly the OP. At my end, or anywhere even close, the whirling little bits of chopped leaves under a power mower will quickly obliterate all the grass above level. It leaves (ugh) an amazingly clear smooth dirt surface. I strongly recommend you do NOT do this on a significant amount of leaves unless you want the bare dirt.

If you’re talking about doing this away from your lawn, it still is not feasible for someone with the amount of leaves I have. There are only so many hours in a weekend.

FtG aka GLP