I had great experiences gathering up leaves from the fall and using them on beds.
I let the leaves overwinter on my raised beds. In the spring, I poked around casually, and found worms galore partying just beneath the surface.
A bit later in spring, in about April, I noticed lots and lots of spiders making families.
I planted directly in the leaves. I dug little nooks for my plants and dropped them right in, then put leaf cover back around them. The herbs and vegetables that I placed in that environment have grown great. I have not watered any of the leaf-mulched plants at all.
It's starting to become summer and I have noticed mosquitoes and gnats in the leaves, and some ant colonies sprung up near my house in the leaves (the ants started coming into the house, which I didn't like.)
All in all I heartily recommend this method. I do advise a mix of different leaf types, and not to use a big majority of oak leaves (I think my neighbor has a giant oak), as I noticed oak leaves take a long time to break down.
Our property is 95% oak and hickory. As we have been clearing areas to build we have been piling the leaves in an area that I isolated using T-posts and chicken wire. The leaves have been decomposing quite nicely, and we turn it from time to time as we pile more leaves in. My Mother in Law swears we are making a big mistake to use all those leaves because the tannin in the oak leaves will turn our garden too acidic to grow anything. She insists we need to burn the leaves and stick to using a "regular" fertilizer like everyone else does. From what I've read, the tannins are leached out by rain and broken down by some micro-organisms and pose no threat to the garden. The biggest issue I can see is that oak leaves are slow to decompose so you have to be patient while they compost.
My MIL won't say anything further about it to me, but she loves to lecture my wife about how I'm going to ruin our garden area if she doesn't stop me from my fool's errand. What say the good folks at Permies?
Learn to dance in the rain.
I can't renounce my name. It's on all my stationery! And hinted in this tiny ad: