I live in Zone 5b in Cambridge Ontario
My property has about 30 mature trees a cross between Ash, Pine , Maple and Oak.
Over the last 20 years, part of my property has been left to nature. I fenced my yard for a pool which sectioned off this area full of leafs and plant ground cover. This year I created new raised vegetable planters 4X8, 3X8 and 4X4 boxes with the intention of planning new gardens to kitchen table source of home grown produce. Finally my Question If I were to till this area can it be used to create compost or mulch for my new raised gardens?
I assume so but siding on caution.
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners
Raised garden beds are an excellent way to grow vegetables and flowering plants, for a number of reasons, including: the soil warms faster in spring, the beds are more accessible, the soil doesn’t become compacted by foot traffic, and they are easier to keep free of encroachment from grass or invasive plants.
Originally, tilling was used to break up and loosen soil, turn up weeds, and quickly incorporate soil amendments. The thinking is that as long as the soil is loose and free of weeds, something should grow! However, recently researchers have found that tilling destroys fungal networks and the sticky exudates of soil organisms that hold soil together. In fact it has been shown that tilling destroys humus, the organic component of soil that is necessary for plant life.
Another issue that you should keep in mind is that rototilling uncovers weed seeds which have laid dormant deep in the soil possibly for years. Once these seeds have been brought up to the surface where they receive sun and warmth they will begin to germinate. You will see an increase in the number of weeds in your soil. You should also check to make sure that you do not have any invasive species in this unused section of your yard. One example of a very invasive species which is rampant is Japanese Knotweed; an aggressive semi-woody perennial introduced to Canada in the 1800’s as an ornamental plant. The following link gives a very complete description by Toronto Master Gardeners as to how we all need to be be vigilant with effective management of JAPANESE KNOTWEED in our gardens and adjacent public areas.
In partnership with the City of Toronto, the Toronto Master Gardeners developed a series of Gardening Guides / Fact Sheets on organic gardening topics. To read the Guide on improving your soil organically, just click here.
In partnership with the City of Toronto, the Toronto Master Gardeners developed a series of Gardening Guides / Fact Sheets on organic gardening topics. To read the Guide on organic vegetable gardening, just click here.
The following links provide excellent information on raised bed gardening: https://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/ho-200.pdf and https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W346-E.pdf
Good Luck and i hope that you enjoy a bountiful harvest!