cga
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Leaves

Hello to all. Just joined a few minutes ago. This looks like a great place to belong.
I have some wooded land and been rakeing up a lot of leaves for about a week now. After I get all the loose stuff cleaned up, under them is a layer that is almost glued to the ground. Under that is a layer of dark brown(must be compleatly rotted leaves) material that I've been collecting. Is this bottom material good to go or should it be composted. I've never composted anything before.
My gardens have always been in ground and this material will be used in my first raised beds.
I use to plant 6 acres with chemical fertalizers on different ground, but at my house I want to go strictly organic. I will admit I did use what 46-0-0 I had left over on my corn, but that was the end of it for me.
My first raised bed will be 14x6, so I need lots of material. On my land is some hemlock trees, quite a few the same diameter. So my raised bed will look like the base of a log cabin, about 18 to 24 inches high.
I could use some help on this brown material.
Thanks,
Cliff

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rainbowgardener
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That bottom layer of completely broken down leaves, called leaf mould is great stuff for adding to your raised beds, as is. I think by itself it is pretty high in carbon, low in nitrogen, but has great texture and drainage and lots of life. You want to mix it with other topsoil, compost, etc.

6' is pretty wide for a raised bed...Part of the idea of a raised bed is that you never walk on it, so you never compact the soil. So you have to be able to work it, weeding, mulching, harvesting or whatever from the outside. For most of us that means 4' wide is about as much as we can reach, working from the sides.

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cga
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Thanks for the reply. I only wanted 6 feet for eye appeal. You are right on 4 feet, I'm not that tall and would not have given it a thought until I started weeding it. One more question, I'm going to line it with plastic. Are all plastisc ok, or is there something I should stay away from?

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rainbowgardener
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Why do you want to line it with plastic? That will turn it into a bog holding all the water and you will only be able to grow rice and cattails there.

If it is because you are putting the bed on top of grass/weeds that you don't want to grow into the raised bed, just lay down a couple layers of cardboard or several layers of newspaper at the bottom and then put your dirt/ leaf mould etc on top of that. The dirt/ leaf mould etc would probably be enough on its own in beds that deep, but the cardboard is extra insurance to smother the weeds. It will break down after awhile.

If it is to keep the soil in the beds if your logs have enough cracks or un-evenness that the soil might tend to wash out, just line them with bird netting or something like that.

Some other reason?
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cga
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Rainbowgardener:
The plastic is to keep the logs from rotting to fast. Its going to take a lot of work to do a nice job and I just hate to see it go bad in a couple of years. Thanks.

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applestar
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Since you're in Pa. What you have are probably Eastern Hemlock not the lumber hemlock that rots easily. Quick search seems to indicate that E. Hemlock is rot resistant. you may not need the plastic with all the attendant problems including exclusion of beneficial soil biology as well as concern over chemicals and breakdown compounds from the plastic.

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gixxerific
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Great idea using the trees for your raised beds. I would not use the plastic myself either.

And on the leaf mould that's great stuff. Pile up the rest to compost more, but you will need to add some greens to that to make a more balanced compost. Grass clippings would be great or kitchen scraps.

You are headed in the right direction.

Good luck.

cga
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Thanks for the responces.

Hemlock logs without the bark do seem to last a long time. I've got about 5 acres of these. Lots of sizes and lots of each size. I ask a local lumber lard for prices on un-treated 2x12 x12, about $20.00 each with the tax.
WoW! Made using logs look pretty good.

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stella1751
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I have two types of raised beds, one kind made out of landscape timbers and the other made out of 2" x 6" boards. I line the latter kind with landscaping plastic to help the bed retain moisture. I have good-draining soil, and we get very little rain in Wyoming, so I suppose that makes a difference.

I don't line the landscape timber beds with plastic because I think it would be too easily punctured when I am working the soil. Plus, I'll work anything organic into my soil, including leaves still attached to their twigs, which will also puncture the plastic. One day, though, I want to seal the seams on these. I've been looking into hide glue, which I think would work :roll: :roll:
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rainbowgardener
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OK... I had the wrong picture when you said lining it. If you need to put plastic against your logs, that will cut down on air water circulation a bit, but be sure you don't line the bottom. If these are sitting on the ground then water can still drain into the soil below. But as others have said, I'm not convinced you do need to protect the logs like that.

A different option besides the plastic, is to "paint" your logs with wood sealer inside and out once the bed is built but before you put the dirt in.
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Gary350
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Here is a link you should read about leaf mould. All the nutrition is locked up and can not be used by the plants. You can mix leaf mould with compost or soil and no lime or fertilizer is needed but 100% leaf mould will need fertilizer and lime.

https://organicgardening.about.com/od/compost/a/LeafMold.htm

Plastic will act as a barrier I would not use that. It will hold water in rainy weather. It will be dry as the desert in the hot summer because it will not allow moisture in the soil to come up into your raised beds.

I have one raised bed. I built it with 5/4 deck boards 8 ft long. I cut 26" off of each 8 ft board and attached the 26" board to the ends of the 70" board to build a rectangle box 26" wide 6 ft long. I have 3 of these boxes end to end, my raised bed is 26" wide by 18 ft long. This is the only raised bed I have because I can not make or get enough compost for 15 raised beds. My other 14 rows are in the soil with compost added to each plant.

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gixxerific
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But Rainbow wouldn't the wood sealer put out WAY more bad chemicals than a plastic lined barrier? That doesn't sound good to me, I could be wrong. :hide:

If it were me I would go with naked logs.

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engineeredgarden
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Coat the boards liberally with linseed oil, and that will seal them from the elements.

EG

cga
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Thank all of you for your thoughts.
Should the linseed oil be boild linseed oil?

cga
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Gary350 wrote:Here is a link you should read about leaf mould. All the nutrition is locked up and can not be used by the plants. You can mix leaf mould with compost or soil and no lime or fertilizer is needed but 100% leaf mould will need fertilizer and lime.

https://organicgardening.about.com/od/compost/a/LeafMold.htm

Plastic will act as a barrier I would not use that. It will hold water in rainy weather. It will be dry as the desert in the hot summer because it will not allow moisture in the soil to come up into your raised beds.

I have one raised bed. I built it with 5/4 deck boards 8 ft long. I cut 26" off of each 8 ft board and attached the 26" board to the ends of the 70" board to build a rectangle box 26" wide 6 ft long. I have 3 of these boxes end to end, my raised bed is 26" wide by 18 ft long. This is the only raised bed I have because I can not make or get enough compost for 15 raised beds. My other 14 rows are in the soil with compost added to each plant.
Great information. Thanks for the link.

nickolas
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Re: Leaves

cga wrote:I use to plant 6 acres with chemical fertalizers on different ground, but at my house I want to go strictly organic. I will admit I did use what 46-0-0 I had left over on my corn, but that was the end of it for me.
Good on you for going organic cga, I don’t know what 46-0-0 is but if it is any thing like super phosphate I would avoid it like the plague here is an exert from a book called organic gardening by Peter Bennett

Declining pastures, induced trace element deficiencies, animal health problems and environmental hazards including serious pollution of waterways and estuaries are undoubtedly resulting from the overuse of superphosphate and should be the concern of every well-informed and decent citizen. - Peter Bennett



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