What do you do with used leaves?


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What do you do with used leaves?

Postby Poohblah » Sep 15th, '13, 17:36

I'm pretty sure this has been discussed before... though I'm having trouble finding old threads on the topic. But I'm really curious and I would like to know:

What do you do with your used leaves?

I've heard of Chip's "SLT", however I've never really tried that approach myself. I would love to hear of anybody who has tried something similar. I would also love to compost my leaves, but apartment life makes that difficult. I'm getting tired of just throwing away all my used leaves; I feel like it's such a waste.

Experiences? Successes? Failures? Ideas? Comments? Thoughts? I would love to hear them all :)
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Re: What do you do with used leaves?

Postby debunix » Sep 15th, '13, 17:39

If you're sufficiently determined, it is possible to keep a worm bin going for small-scale composting in an apartment. I did that for years, but must admit I'm much happier to have it happening outdoors now.
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Re: What do you do with used leaves?

Postby Poohblah » Sep 15th, '13, 17:41

debunix wrote:If you're sufficiently determined, it is possible to keep a worm bin going for small-scale composting in an apartment. I did that for years, but must admit I'm much happier to have it happening outdoors now.
Yes - I thought about doing this, but I don't really have any use for compost. I have just a couple houseplants, and they don't need fresh soil very often. But it sounds like a great idea and fun mini-hobby.
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Re: What do you do with used leaves?

Postby debunix » Sep 15th, '13, 18:21

I gave the worm castings to a friend with a lovely garden, and got occaisional offerings of cut flowers in return.
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Re: What do you do with used leaves?

Postby BioHorn » Sep 15th, '13, 19:54

Finally done this week with drying spent leaf to make a four gallon tea pillow! After that, new spent leaf will probably go to compost. Anyone have experience/advice in making a pillow?

The pic does not seem to be working out. Such are the limitations with iPad and TeaChat!

Image
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Re: What do you do with used leaves?

Postby Evan Draper » Sep 15th, '13, 21:33

I used to work in a tearoom, and the owner felt bad about all the spent leaves being thrown out, so she started a compost bin. Except this was just your average plastic office trash can, and it didn't get emptied into any kind of compost processing operation. Every once in a while I'd just tip the "compost" into the garbage can, until one day I saw roaches in it, at which point I emptied and cleaned the "compost bin," and hid it under some things in the cluttered basement. When she asked if I'd thrown it out, I honestly answered "no." (Maybe they pay somebody to transport it via bike to a compost operation now.)

I looked into this a little bit, and my impression was that composting is good at returning nutrients to soil for growing things or feeding worms. If you don't have a use for these things, the environmental impact is not very large. I think you have to be doing some specific things to your compost to make it perform better than a landfill in the "carbon emissions" area. If everyone cut down on their waste, yes, we'd save some gas for the garbage trucks, but "running out of landfill space" is not a present danger, and I imagine wet leaves break down pretty quickly even in a poorly-designed landfill. But hey, I could be completely wrong on all of this.

Not trying to start a big fight about this--if you compost your tea leaves, good work. If you want to start, have fun. If you don't, I just want to give you permission not to feel guilty about it, because there are plenty of more important things to do--like living in a smaller house, with a short commute preferably by bike or transit, and buying efficient appliances, for example.

All that said, I did toss some tea leaves in the litter box on a few occasions. But I imagine most methods used to dry the leaves without molding negate any environmental benefits.
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Re: What do you do with used leaves?

Postby Poohblah » Sep 15th, '13, 22:42

I'm not concerned about any environmental impacts of composting vs. throwing in the trash. But if I had any reason to compost, like a vegetable garden in my backyard, then all of my leftover tealeaves would make a good addition to a compost pile.

Again, I'm not trying to argue that throwing out tea leaves is necessarily "bad" ... I just wonder if anybody has come up with any good uses for spent leaves. Compost is the most obvious answer, since tea leaves are organic plant matter.
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Re: What do you do with used leaves?

Postby debunix » Sep 16th, '13, 02:34

They definitely seem to disappear quickly whether in the worm bin or the regular compost.
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Re: What do you do with used leaves?

Postby sriracha » Sep 16th, '13, 09:15

If I have sencha/gyokuro leaves that are tender enough I eat them, all else gets thrown away.
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Re: What do you do with used leaves?

Postby jayinhk » Sep 16th, '13, 18:59

debunix, cool that you have a worm bin. Wish I had space for one!

I throw mine away, but in a place like HK, I can't really be expected to compost them.
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Re: What do you do with used leaves?

Postby wyardley » Sep 18th, '13, 00:52

BioHorn wrote:Finally done this week with drying spent leaf to make a four gallon tea pillow! After that, new spent leaf will probably go to compost. Anyone have experience/advice in making a pillow?

I just used a pillow intended for use as a buckwheat pillow, and stuffed it with dried tealeaves instead. You should crush the tea pretty well first.

In my personal experience, I found tea noisier (when you move your head) and less comfortable than buckwheat.
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Re: What do you do with used leaves?

Postby gingkoseto » Sep 25th, '13, 07:16

This is from a blog I wrote 3 years ago (about unwanted tea in general but below could be applied to spent tea leaves)

2. Put tea leaves (unscented tea) in a pillow or sofa cushion, or small pouch – depending how much you have. (For this purpose, I use spent leaves only. I've seen commercial products made with unused leaves though.)

3. Put tea leaves in small pouches and use them as dehumidifying bags for storage boxes or deodorizer bags in fridge. (Spent leaves do the job well.)

5. Put tea leaves in small pouches and use them as “sniffing bags” in office. Make sure it’s a flavor that you like. I mostly use spent leaves and apply vodka based essential oil mix on them.

About pillow, I ended up buying a few pillows made of oolong tea stems which I liked better than pillows made of tea leaves. But my favorite pillows are still buckwheat shell stuffed ones.

And as mentioned above, earthworms love tea leaves (or other fibery stuff), hence your plants would love it. There are some online video clips showing feasible ways to raise earthworms in an indoor plastic box (for urban people). I tried that too and realized that one may need to buy the commercial worms (different species than one could usually catch from the garden) to have them reproduce indoor. Other than that, the idea seems to work out well.
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