Oak leaves in the vegetable garden

Asked August 31, 2020, 3:30 PM EDT

I've often heard that decaying oak leaves are not good mulch for a vegetable garden. Unfortunately, large mature oak trees are very near my garden. I've maintained this garden for over 18 years, but I am reluctant to use the decaying leaves as mulch. Should I continue to keep this practice?

Stark County Ohio

1 Response

Oak leaves can be used as a mulch for a vegetable garden if they are shredded either with a shredder or a lawn mower. Whole oak leaves can take up to 2 years to decompose and therefore are not a good mulch for the vegetable garden. If you don't shred you can leave a layer of leaves on the garden bed over the winter to protect the soil, but should be removed in the spring prior to preparing the bed.

Following are a few links to University Extension sites with more info: