parke.hk
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Location: Madison, WI

What to do with the leaves on my garden?

I put about 2-3" of leaves from my yard on top of my garden last October. I let them sit there all winter. I am now excited to get started to prepare my garden, but I am curious as to what to do with the leaves. Should I attempt to till them into the soil, remove them, or acquire new top soil to put over them? My first garden was last year and I had dug up and turned over a patch of grass. Should I do that again, turning the leaves under? I have heard it is damaging to the soil structure to do that again.

Thanks
Locked in an eternal battle with slugs!
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treehopper
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WHAT??? you don't have a compost pile?!!! come here, I want to show you something....
I started a compost pile, because I gardened. Now I find myself gardening, so I have someplace for my compost!!

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applestar
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That's funny treehopper, but actually piling leaves on the garden bed is an excellent way to winterize your garden. It suppresses weeds and creates a biologically active zone. I suspect there are tons of earthworms under there.

Some people are concerned about pest bugs wintering in the leaves, but in my experience those leaves are full of ground spiders and centipedes, so I'm not worried.

What to do with the leaves in spring is a matter of debate. Some people till them in, some people will remove the dry unbrokem downupper leaves and put them in the compost pile with the first spring weeding and grass clippings, or use them to mulch the paths between garden beds.

If you decide to remove the leaves, be sure to wear heavy longer gloves. I actually wear kitchen gloves.

parke.hk
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applestar- When you say to till them into the soil, what method would you recommend? Would I rent a gas tiller or use some other method. I did pull back some of the leaves and the topsoil looked very nice. I think I am just leaning toward removing them to use later for mulch.
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DoubleDogFarm
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Rake them off the beds into rows. These rows are now your aisles between beds. A clean place to walk and weed suppression.

Eric

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jal_ut
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I think I am just leaning toward removing them to use later for mulch.
I think that is an excellent option. The only thing I suggest that may be better is rake them off and compost them with some fresh grass clippings, then use the compost as mulch. This would break down the leaves quicker into compounds the plants can use.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/- Plant a Garden

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rainbowgardener
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For some of my flower beds (i.e. areas where it is a manageable amount of work) I just bury them in the bed by hand. They break down much faster once buried in the soil. Earthworms love them.
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parke.hk
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Thanks for this tips. I decided to use the leaves as pathways in my garden. I like the idea of having pathways without weeds. I also plan to start a compost pile with the extra leaves form the garden.
Locked in an eternal battle with slugs!
Gardening in zone 5a

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