Monday, November 21, 2011

FAQ: Is it okay to mulch with...?

I want to mulch around my flowerbed with the leaves from my yard but I was told by someone that oak and pecan leaves are bad for your garden. Some chemical in them. Is that true? Can I not use them? If I can, what is the best way to use them to add organic matter to my flower beds?

Yes, you may rake the leaves directly into the flowerbed around your garden. Oak and pecan leaves contain tannin, an acidic compound very common in plants. Tannin is what makes strong tea astringent. It's also the active ingredient in oak bark traditionally used for tanning leather. Tannin is found in some form in practically every plant family.  While oak and pecan leaves may acidify the soil, the pH can be easily adjusted. If you take a soil sample to the nearest Cooperative Extension Service office for analysis, you'll receive instructions on how to adjust it.

For best results, I suggest you compost your leaves before applying them to your flowerbed.

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