tommyblaze
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Has Anyone Used Forest Dirt in their Gardens?

I have a little forest by me, its something the town really really doesnt take care of. I went to the edge of the forest moved some leaves that probably have been there for decades. The dirt underneath was black like a crayon. Quite a few bugs too, I put my shovel into it it seemed really nice only thing quite a few very small roots from some type of vine. Has anybody taken dirt from the woods/forest and used it in their garden and raised bed before?

tomc
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Re: Forest dirt

The litter, duff, and humus, of a woodlot is the totality of what that forest has to eat. Remove it and the wood lot will decline. Persist and the wood lot will die.
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GardeningCook
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Re: Forest dirt

I agree. Unless this "forest" is on your own property, you have no business taking soil from it.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Forest dirt

The leaf mould (nothing to do with actual mold; it's from the old word mouldering, it's what leaves break down into) is really good stuff for your garden. You can make your own by piling up a cubic yard or so of leaves (in some kind of cage so they get plenty of air but don't blow away) and watering occasionally so that they stay a little damp, don't dry out totally, and let them sit for a year or so. The ones on the outside won't be broken down yet, but the bottom layer will be like the forest stuff you were finding.
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Re: Has Anyone Used Forest Dirt in their Gardens?

I agree with RainbowGardener, probably best to make your own soil. I cleared two decades worth of leaves from my front yard last year and it revealed beautiful dark soil. It's rocky New England soil but all the flowers and bulbs we planted out there grew well.

As for taking from a forest, there are very possibly laws prohibiting the taking of rocks, soil, wood- pretty much anything out of the forest. That's a fairly common rule in most public forest lands. Beyond that you might bring back poison ivy, which is common on the East Coast.

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Gary350
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Re: Has Anyone Used Forest Dirt in their Gardens?

Forest soil is class A soil. It will be excellent organic material but low in useable plant food. You will need to add nitrogen and lime. 35 years ago I hauled forest soil to my garden I learned it was best to dump it in a pile and let it compost 2 years before putting it in the garden. I hauled 6 pickup truck loads after 2 years composting I had about 1 pickup load for the garden.

I found it was much easier to have the city vacuum truck that sucks up all the tree leaves that are raked to the street to dump me several loads of leaves next to my garden. The truck compacts the leaves very tight 5 garbage truck loads is a LOT of leaves. It takes 3 years for the leaves to compose so they can be used in the garden unless you add nitrogen and lime to the pile that speeds up the compose process, add wood ash and urine it all helps. After composting it would cover my entire 40'x80' garden 12" deep in the nicest black compost material you ever saw. My garden loved it but 4 years later it had completely composted away and it was gone. It is lots of work that was back in the days when I was young and had lots of energy.

tommyblaze
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Re: Has Anyone Used Forest Dirt in their Gardens?

Thanks gary but I have decided against it. I might take a bucket full just to see what happens.

meshmouse
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Re: Has Anyone Used Forest Dirt in their Gardens?

Hey GardeningCook -

You wrote - 'I agree. Unless this "forest" is on your own property, you have no business taking soil from it.'.

I was making that same point to a neighbor recently (re: taking some sand and stone from the beach for personal use) and he said 'I'm not stealing Village property, I'm just re-arranging its location. The Village's property is still in the Village'. I'm still mulling this over.

BTW, I love your signature. I've often said, 'My body is a temple and I am its slumlord' but I like yours better. I'm gonna steal (pardon me, re-locate) it.

meshmouse

Igotworms
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Re: Has Anyone Used Forest Dirt in their Gardens?

as long as you are not taking much it will not harm the forest to take a little bit out. I collected humus from old broken down trees that were on a friends land. It is a great addition to compost piles or used as mulch. I considered taking a bucket full of soil but I ended up not needing it because I had enough home made compost. You shouldnt take more than needed.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Has Anyone Used Forest Dirt in their Gardens?

A friend's land is fine because the friend can give you permission and you know how many people are doing it.

The trouble with public lands is that you may well not be the only one deciding it is ok to "just take a little bit."
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