Composting in raised bed gardens

captainjack(8)September 28, 2009

Hello everyone,

Very new here and I have a composting question.

This year I created four raised beds to do our gardening in,

and there inside dimensions are four foot by ten foot.

I wanted to do composting of this years plants and all the leaves that get blown onto our property directly in the beds,

and have bought a new leaf blower/vacuum-mulcher for that purpose.

My plan was to mulch up the leaves and bury them a foot or so down in the beds, turning the soil every month.

Any thoughts on this approach? I really don't want to get a bin or create a pile.

I'm also curious about some of the plants in the garden and wither or not they should be mulched and added.

The two of question are the melon vine leaves and stems and the corn plants. Any thoughts on those being used for direct burial? (I actually thought the melon plants might be a problem for the worms).

Any input would help from those more experienced in this field than I.



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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

Why not keep it easy and just leave all the material on top of the soil? This is commonly called sheet composting or lasagna garden or interbay mulch. Search this forum for many, many thread on the subject.

I have done this in the past and it works great. Currently in progress are two new beds, 8x4 each. They're made of a wood frame, some new soil added to the bottom. This weekend I topped that with straw/grass clipping mix. Coffe grounds will be added as I get them, topped off with leaves when they fall.

Much easier, and doesn't disturb the soil.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 7:39PM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

You don't need to turn the soil and mix it up with what you are composting in your raised bed. One advantage of raised beds is that no digging is required! I have always composted almost all of my vegetable plants in my compost piles, however if you have something that seems diseased then I would not put it in. Don't worry about a plant vine being too thick, it is amazing what time, water, and bugs will do it to.

However, you will need something besides leaves and a few garden plants to get any decent compost to grow stuff in. I would suggest you add grass clippings, animal manure, coffee grounds from a local cafe, or whatever sort of material you can find easily for free. I myself put leftovers from a produce stand into mine, with leaves and horse manure. Makes EXCELLENT vegie gardens. I also sprinkle in crushed egg shells that we save and a little wood ashes from our stove. The more ingredients the better chance of having all the desired nutrients in there.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 2:12AM
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Leave the leaves that blow in from elsewhere on the soil in your raised beds as a mulch and let the Soil Food Web work on getting that material into your soil for you. Much less work for your and much better for the soil and the Soil Food Web.
I have knocked down and then covered with compost and a mulch material the garden debris, tomato, cucurbit family vines, beans, and most other plant material for many years in my no till planting beds, not raised either. I let that plant material replenish the nutrients they removed from the soil right were they removed it.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 6:56AM
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Great ideas so far.
Some more details about my location; our house is located on the top of a narrow ridge at 800ft elev. in Roseburg, Oregon.
We get some pretty strong winds on a regular bases up here and we get winter temps that hoover around 30f. I did buy a Soil Soup kit half way thru the season when I started to notice irregularities in plant development
(i.e. corn that topped out at 2 to 3 ft, melons that never finished growing to full size, etc.), so that is something that I will add to the compost pile.
I like the Interbay Mulch idea, using the burlap to cover the pile to prevent it from blowing away.
I am curious if using my new vacuum/mulcher is a good idea.
Should I just build a pile of leaves and cover it or mulch it up and build a pile on top of the beds?
Thanks again for the tips so far,

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 11:46AM
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Just layer them onto the tops of the beds and we them down.

Next spring, plant right in the leafy layer, or dig through it.

No need to dig - that's too much work.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 8:04PM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

captainjack: I like my leaf vac; it chops the leaves and smaller pieces blow away less and break down faster than whole leaves.

I also sit on a big hillside high above the river and winds are fierce. (You don't want to hear about repair bills and replacements to my roof and siding...). Covering with burlap does keep the material in the bed, burlap can be weighed down by bricks at the edges. If you don't have burlap, I have also used old cotton bed sheets and that worked well, too (but I'd use a natural fabric like cotton, nothing plastic).

Very important point: Moisten the hump as you build it, it's imposibble to moisten later. Keep moist or composting stops.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 8:56PM
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