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Thread: New garden, need prep tips

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Default New garden, need prep tips

    The new place we just bought has access to a fairly large garden spot surrounded by a deer fence. Problem is, it hasn't been used in several years. It's full of weeds and cocklebur bushes. Irrigation isn't a problem, as the landlord's hay field borders it, and he has told us the irrigation equipment would spray that far. Wife's wanting to run common veggies and a few bean vines this year, but wasn't sure if we could just grade it(landlord has given me a key to his Bobcat loader and has a dozier blade for it), till, and plant. Soil is naturally fertile in this area, so it would need little to no fertilizer. Any advice would be appreciated.
    Μολὼν λαβέ (Molon labe), “Come and get them!”

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    East Tennessee
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    Depending on whats around the area, I would consider burning it to start with, then work it up. If you aren't going to plant the whole area this year, I would also plant buckwheat over the area that's not planted and till it under after about 6 weeks or so before it goes to seed. It will grow thickly enough to choke out the weeds and will break down into some nice soil.

    If you can't burn it, I would mow and rake all the brush away, then work it up.
    Greater love hath no man than this, That a man lay down his life for a friend.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks, Backpacker. Burning is out, as it borders a forest and is surrounded by cocklebur on 3 sides. I'll have access to a large rototiller by mid-summer, so I can do the buckwheat then.
    Μολὼν λαβέ (Molon labe), “Come and get them!”

    Nobody owes you anything. You're only entitled to what you worked for.

    "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings." - Optimus Prime

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    NORTHCENTRAL MT.
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    I know it's a lot of work, but what I did in an overgrown garden was till and retill quite a few time to really work the ground and then I went through with a garden rake and on my hands and knees and cleaned out all of the plant material I could, also rocks, etc. I highly recommend doing this. In the long run it is worth it and will save you time. Use gloves, cockleburs are nasty.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Central North Dakota
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    The other labor intensive but right now doable option is to "scalp it" by mowing on the lowest deck height many times in opposing directions to mulch the grasses as much as possible and then rake it as clean as you can, then take a round point long handle shovel and start at one corner of the garden plot and press the shovel in deeply on 4 sides making a rough square plug and carefully pull it out keeping it intact as much as possible after you have it out lay it out carefully outside of the edge of the garden plot. Choose which direction you want to work first, move one shovel space that way and then face the hole you just made, make a 3 sided cut (the fourth side is the hole you just made) in the same manner as the first and carefully lay that dirt out side the garden plot as well. Continue down the row in the same way making a ditch, when you start on the second row you make 2 cuts and turn it over into the first row ditch you made. Follow this procedure across the entire garden plot, when you get to the last ditch, you fill it with the dirt saved from the first row. That turns all of the weeds and cockleburs over so deep that you will thwart many of them and with a proactive weeding approach they will never get as bad as they are now because they will be caught young. It has always been the old timer knowledge around my folks that this should be done yearly in the fall anyway. It is also my opinion that the skidsteer would do more harm than good, well, in any capacity other than hauling away the mowing/raking trash.
    United we Stand. Divided we Fall.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    East TN Smokey Mountains
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    I would think long term first. Don't worry so much about growing much this year as store bought food / farmer's markets is likely to be still available. Get your garden area ready for the future. Get a soil test, your local farmer's co-op can do that.

    I would mow it down with a mower like countrynpeaches suggests, but I like keeping the organic material in place and tilling it in. You are going to have weed seeds in it, but there are ways to deal with that. Adding organic matter to soils is a hallmark of sustainable, organic growing so I would want to preserve that in place.

    Backpacker is right, buckwheat and other cover crops (harry vetch) are a good placeholders until you get around to your food crops. These are called green manures and designed to grow until just before they go to seed and then till them under to add organic matter to the soil. Check out moth beans which are said to smother anything else. I am going to try them myself of a pasture area I am going to turn into additional garden space. These have the added advantage of providing animal (chicken) food if you did not eat them yourself and they fix nitrogen into the soil.
    http://www.bountifulgardens.org/prod...umber=VBE-2370

    Get yourself some cardboard, paper, newspaper, old feed bags, etc and lay those on the ground. Then cover with organic matter such as hay, straw, rotted manure, lawn mower clippings, leaves. Pretty much doesn't matter. This is known as sheet composting or lasagne gardening. Purpose is to smother old grass and weeds with organic things that will eventually decompose after doing their work.

    We do raised beds, but that is a bit of work, but really is helpful long term because you only need to care for (fertilize,mulch, weed, etc) about 60% of the area which is raising food, the other 40% is just paths. Then you never walk in those beds and they get really soft. We can now "till" ours with a potato fork.

    What we do is to keep the ground covered with something at all times. In the fall I shred leaves and put a 2 - 4" layer of them on the beds followed by a couple inches of lawn mower clippings (which heat up and decompose the leaves) or I will plant a cover crop. We start most all our crops indoors in pots. Then when I plant them we just pull aside the leaves / grass and stick the plant in. Soon as it is mowing season all the lawn clippings go around the plants as week suppression and mulch (holds water). I do practically no weeding due to all this.

    If you like asparagus, I would plant that first cause it will take a couple years to begin producing.

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