Using leaves in a raised bed

clhawk(7a)April 24, 2005

I'm doing my first raised bed and I'm wanting to cut down on the amount of soil I have to buy. I've got a lot of leaves piled up in my yard and I was wondering how I could use them in a raised bed. I have a leaf vacuum that will reduce 10 bags to 1 bag. Any suggestions?

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Jacque_E_TX(Z 8a N Cent TX)

Howdy, clhawk!

I am among the throng who happily filled my beds halfway with dried leaves before spreading the mix on top.

Dried leaves give off fumes as they slowly rot. The fumes drive away various "bad bugs." Then the rotted leaves provide yummy food for the bed, which gives future crops a good long-term feed.

Plus, the price is right. How can you lose?

(I just raked up leaves and dumped 'em in. I wasn't interested in reducing the air supply or the volume of free leaf matter in the beds.)

Let us know how your project progresses!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 10:40PM
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Ray_Scheel(z8b/SS31 E. TX)

In the first bed I built I double dug, kinda, as I used the lower clay layer to make the edges under the bricks (my entire property is slope). Since I ended up with a 2' deep bed that way, I threw in all the sticks and leaves I could, then put my compost on top of that. The leaves settled considerably as the weight above increased, but using a leaf shredder-vac is probably even better, as that bed soil level drops a lot faster than the other beds do. The top 6" is where you need your highest nutrient soil, below that a leaf layer will work just fine

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 11:16PM
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ant3eye(Z6 NJ)

This fall, while everyone else in the neighborhood was blowing their leaves into a pile in the street for pickup, I was the only fool picking my leaves up and moving them to a corner on my property. This spring, the neighbors have large piles of top soil or compost dumped in their driveways for their flower/garden beds while I'm using my leaves.

I knew I would be doubling the number of raised beds I had this spring so I planned ahead. I'll top each leaf filled bed with a couple inches of compost. Without the leaves I'd need 12 inches of compost. Definitely worth it to rake and store the leaves in the fall.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 5:00PM
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Thanks for all the advice. My back yard is about 80% shade so I have plenty of leaves! There's one little corner that gets sunshine and I'm going to put in a couple of raised beds that I'm going to make with cinder blocks.

I was just going to do a herb garden but after reading about some of the stuff y'all are doing, I'm going to add some tomatoes and I'm seriously considering some pole beans. Not sure about what else I might put in.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 6:16PM
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I am with Ant , what a waste of good leaves to put out on the curbside.

If those neighbors would just bag them, they could stay with mine and make more compost.

Leaves are great for soil building.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 10:29PM
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marie99(z8 SC)

I run around in my truck and take other peoples' bagged leaves and pine needles. I've caught other people doing this too.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 1:10PM
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