Vegetables and Walnut Leaves

MaryRowe
MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

So I did a dumb thing. Since there was no straw available in this area this year, I have been scrounging for every possible kind of garden mulch, and leaves are one obvious option. I've been gathering lots of leaves....But today I realized that I dumped two wheelbarrow loads that are probably around 25% walnut leaves on the bed I was intending for tomatoes.

I know tomatoes and all their kin are very sensitive to juglone. I don't know if that's enough walnut leaves to poison them or not. So I'm debating whether to risk it and plant tomatoes there anyway, gather all the leaves up and move them someplace else before the walnut leaves have time to work into the soil, or rearrange my plans and plant something else in that bed this year.

Anyone have advice, or experience with walnut leaves in their mulch?

While mulling this over and considering other vegetables I might plant there instead, I came across a really fine list of edible plants that grow well around walnut trees. Given the dozens of walnut trees on my place, this is definitely a keeper for future reference.


Comments

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,542 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice link @MaryRowe It will come in handy. Thank you!

    Since the leaves not not rotted I might move them, just for peace of mind. That many should not make a huge difference but tomatoes are one of my favorite crops so I would not take the gambel. I would jsut use the leaves somewhere else.

    I try to mix my leaves up. Oak leaves are high in tannin so I make sure I have a few other varieties mixed in with those. Walnit I usually use in my "bad compost." Bad Compost is compost I will not usually use in a garden but will fill a hole in with and top with soil

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    Myself, I'd either move the leaves or plant something not sensitive to juglone there. I don't have any info to back that up; just playing it safe.

    I understand about the walnut challenge. We have a very old, very large black walnut tree in our neighbors yard, right up against our property. It's a little too close for comfort to our back garden plot, but so far we've had reasonable success. I do try to throw the leaves/walnuts into the bushes whenever they fall close to the garden.

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    Thank you both for your thoughts. I was leaning in the direction of not risking my tomato crop, and now even more so. As I've been mulling this over today, another idea occurred to me. I have been thinking about trying a Three Sisters garden for ages, never got around to it. The Osage tribe who used to own this area planted that way, so it should work here. Corn, squash and beans are all juglone-tolerant, and that bed would accommodate a small patch of them. And I've thought of another spot, that with a bit of amendment, should be great for tomatoes.

    So new plan is, a small trial-run Three Sisters patch this year in that bed where I dumped the leaves--along with one tomato plant just to see if it will grow there, Meanwhile, I'll hope this mild winter holds a while longer, and lets me get the new tomato bed ready before spring, So maybe my blunder will work out well after all.....

    @Denise Grant I try to mix my leaves too, but it's hard to find any good ones to mix---the trees on my place are almost all oak or black walnut, and they are thick here. I'd rather leave the fruit tree leaves for the fruit trees, which leaves me trying to scrounge from a few scattered sycamore, hackberries, persimmons, redbuds, one grand old cottonwood, and a couple other random trees, without getting too much oak and black walnut mixed in, It can be downright frustrating sometimes....

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,542 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MaryRowe I think your three sister gardens is a great idea and I love them. They are so much fun and you can change them up easily for a new look all the time. After all who wants a garden that looks the same all the time? (excuse for buying different seeds)

    I have mainly oak, maple and linden here. I hit my neighbors up for more of their leaves. My poor neighbors and friends. They never know what I will be asking for next.

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    @Denise Grant Ooooh Yes, more seeds!!! If I'm going to do this, might as well do it right. Let's see, Pinetree and Baker's Creek for sure have heirloom varieties from Native American gardens. I'll bet Migardener and others do too. Gosh, this means I'll just have to go through all the seed catalogs again!

    And I never thought of it till now, but I should be begging friends in the city for leaves. They already think I'm crazy, so it wouldn't change anything.....No point asking the neighbors; this year especially, with the straw shortage around here, they are hoarding their leaves for garden mulch too, and they have the same problem as me--too many oak and black walnut, not enough of anything else. Besides, I'm the only one around here to let the trees take over the place. My neighbors all raise cattle, so their land has mostly been turned into pasture. They can't understand why I let the trees--which they generally regard as giant weeds--take over all the potential pasture land on my place. So they think I'm crazy too......

  • RustBeltCowgirl
    RustBeltCowgirl Posts: 1,403 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I will probably hit the pines on the lot line. There should be a sufficient layer of pine needles under there, mixed with mulberry and cottonwood leaves.

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 952 ✭✭✭✭

    @MaryRowe yes, indeed, try the Three Sisters. Squash, beans and corn. Two are vines, can one of these be a flower? The vines ought to be sent upward onto strings or cages. Are you planting all three into the same hole? Oh, the Three Sisters is a wonderful technique.

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    @SuperC I'll likely do it the old way--plant corn first, and once it gets started, plant beans to climb up the corn; plant the squash to fill in the spaces between cornstalks, so that--theoretically--those big fuzzy leaves covering the ground will discourage the raccoons from going after the corn. i am not taking any bets that the local raccoons know or care that's how it's supposed to work though.....And then of course there are the squash bugs to plan for. But heck, it's worth a try.

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 952 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MaryRowe Nice article. I was surprised how many bitter herbs grow well around black walnut trees. They were on the list in the article you posted. Hope your experience is successful.

  • Melissa Swartz
    Melissa Swartz Posts: 270 ✭✭✭

    @MaryRowe I'm in the same situation you are--trees on the property surrounded by flat land used for cattle. They think we are crazy too. But they all ask if they can hunt deer on our land. 😁

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    @Melissa Swartz Same here! And not only do they ask to hunt deer on my place, I actually had one neighbor, who hunts raccoons with dogs, complain that there was too much deadfall in my woods, and I ought to do something about that. Seems that when he would come through with his dogs on a night coon hunt (without bothering to ask permission of course), all that deadfall laying around "made it kinda dangerous...." I told him I was sorry about that, but thought it did a good job of discouraging trespassers.....

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    @Tave I hadn't thought about the bitter herbs when looking at that list, but you are right. I wonder if there is something to "like draws like" and the bitter herbs benefit from the connection with the black walnut.

  • Melissa Burford
    Melissa Burford Posts: 69 ✭✭✭

    I agree, I'd either move the leaves or plant something not sensitive to juglone there.

  • Melissa Swartz
    Melissa Swartz Posts: 270 ✭✭✭

    @MaryRowe It does seem like we have some similar neighbors, who feel entitled to traipse across our property without permission.