Soil for vegetable garden

Credit: iStock

Q: We live by a lake in Southern Cariboo. Looking at the amount of leaves that have fallen in our property, it came to mind that this has got to be good soil where we are, as this has never been cleared. Could I use this in a vegetable garden? The soil around the house is very clay-like except in the forest.


The natural recycling of nutrients is a good thing, but we must establish what type of forest it is in the first place and what type of vegetables we are growing.

Clay soil is usually blue, grey or yellowish in colour, and you can usually make ashtrays and other pottery out of it. If this is the case it would be better to make a raised bed than to try to amend the soil, which will cost a lot and not be that productive in the beginning.

If the soil is mushy and a brown colour, then we have a “Gumbo,” which can be remedied and amended with leaf litter.

If the forest is a mix of conifers and broadleaf, such as alder, maples, birch and the like, take a good-sized sample of the leaf litter, place it in a garbage can and use the weed eater to mulch it into a fine mess; add three parts of this to one part bark mulch and one part rough sand, and mix thoroughly into the area.

If you do this over two to three years, the soil will naturally age into a good soil for most vegetables. If the forest is mostly conifers, then it would be better to make raised beds and leave the leaf material alone.