Yes. You can compost rhubarb leaves. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous because of high levels of oxalic acid, and many people avoid putting them in a compost heap. Contrary to this belief, oxalic acid degrades rapidly and has no impact on compost quality.
How to Compost Rhubarb Leaves?
Compositing rhubarb leaves is no different than composting other materials. Here is a general guide to adding rhubarb leaves to your compost heap.
Prepare the Leaves: Use a leaf mulcher or a knife to break the rhubarb leaves with your hand. Make sure you wear gloves, a face mask, and safety goggles while handling rhubarb leaves, as they contain oxalic acid, which is poisonous.
Add them to the Compost Pile: Add them to the compost pile with other green materials. Ensure you maintain the green-to-brown ratio while adding rhubarb leaves or new materials.
Maintain the Pile: Turn the pile every 7-15 days to ensure smooth mixing. Don’t forget to maintain the moisture and heat levels inside the compost.
How to speed up composting when using Rhubarb or other leaves?
It is better to break the leaves before them in a compost heap. You can use an electric leaf mulcher like WORX WG430 or break the leaves manually. Leaf mulch composts quickly because it provides a large surface area.
Leaves to Avoid for Composting
- Black Walnut
- Poison Ivy
- Poison Oak
- Pine Needles
- Camphor laurel
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I eat Rhubarb?
Yes. Rhubarb or garden rhubarb is a vegetable commonly grown in home gardens across North America. It is frequently used while making pies. Many people consume rhubarb raw, blended into a smoothie, or in the form of rhubarb jam. However, its leaves must not be eaten in any form. They contain oxalic acid, which is harmful to the kidneys and eyes. It can also cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and seizures.
How toxic are the rhubarb leaves?
Rhubarb leaves have oxalic acid, a toxin that is poisonous to animals and humans. The lethal dose of oxalic acid is between 15 grams and 30 grams. You have to consume several pounds of rhubarb leaves to reach the lethal dose of oxalic acid.
What are the benefits of rhubarb?
Rhubarb is highly rich in antioxidants. The antioxidants present in rhubarb have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-bacterial properties. Anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins (antioxidants of rhubarb) protect us from heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes.
Is rhubarb compost safe to use?
Yes. Rhubarb leaves compost is 100% safe to use. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which is broken down into oxygen, water, and carbon once you add the leaves to your compost pile.
How much time do rhubarb leaves take to decompose?
It depends on whether you add them as a whole or break them into small pieces. Generally, rhubarb leaves take 4-8 weeks if added as a whole. Small pieces decompose in 1-2 weeks.
The decomposition time also depends on temperature, moisture and aeration level, and nitrogen-to-carbon ratio in your compost pile.
Can I use rhubarb leaves as mulch?
Yes. You can use rhubarb leaves as mulch around the plants. Rhubarb leaves are large, and help block the weeds temporarily. However, they decompose quickly and need to be replaced often.
Do rhubarb leaves in compost affect soil pH?
If you add rhubarb leaves as the main green ingredient in compost, it may lower the soil’s pH. However, when you mix the compost with ground soil, it balances the pH.