tillmanclark
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Flower Garden to Vegetable Garden??

Hi everyone,

I'm new here but I am currently in the process of cultivating my mothers old garden of flowers into a vegetable garden. It hadn't been touched in about 2 years or so, so I started by raking off the top. Then I just went at it with a shovel and hoe. Now I am in the process of cleaning it out. I feel like I might have made a istake because the cultivation is really hard... there are a ton of roots.

So anyways, I am wondering if I should be worried about weeds/plants/flowers sprouting up. How "clean" does the soil need to be of roots and such? Will they just rot if they are severed and left underground? Should I just take the big stuff out and stir the soil?

I was also thinking about doing a small lasagna thing; put a layer of newspaper and then a layer of compost and stir it all up in April. I've heard that kills old plants and weeds. Would that work?

Any advice would be great! Thanks!

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soil
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what plants grew there before?
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tillmanclark
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That's a good question... its been so long, its hard to know. Lot's of stuff. Strawberries, chives, and then just a ton of other stuff like tulips and other flowers. I'd have to ask my mom for specifics. I imagine it makes a big difference, but I'd wouldn't trust my mom even to know by now--its been years since she tended to it.

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soil
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well if there was things in there like strawberries and chives. i would do what you want to do. and if anything pops up as a volunteer. consider letting it grow some to identify it and then possibly transplant where you want. it would be a shame to destroy something eatable.
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tillmanclark
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Thanks for the response!

I won't be stuff until about mid-May anyways, so perhaps its a good idea to just wait and then re-til before planting. I just want to get the tough work out of the way now.

I already took the strawberries, chives and flowers out where I could. I am more concerned with weeds and grasses popping up. Do you know if its common to cover a garden with a tarp to block out the sun and kill dormant weeds?

ciarandebuitlear
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Sheet mulching

I think you are right with the lasagne option - I call this sheet mulching. If you can double dig the area, removing the roots and adding loads of organic compost (like well rotted manure) into the soil as you go, then hoe off the weeds that come up for a month or two that would be the best way to go. That's a lot of digging though but it is good exercise!

If that is too much work and the soil is basically ok except from the roots and weeds then try sheet mulching. I did this in my side garden when I converted it from grass. Try this in a small area - I think you will have to remove the roots of the larger plants in any case though as they will break through. After that is done simply lay newspaper at least 10 sheets thick and dampen it as you go to keep it down. Better still use cardboard. Then add 3 inches of compost on top. Now DON'T stir it all up in April. Start your vegetables from seed in coir bags, from there into biodegradable 3 inch pots and from there just cut little holes in the mulch and pop in when they are starting to outgrow the pots. Watch out for the slugs and the best of luck!
Ciaran De Buitlear

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gixxerific
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The only thing I would be worried about would be the tulips they may come back but they can be removed easy enough when young. As far as grass and weeds if they haven't been there in the past they won't be much of a problem just do some select weeding if needed.


If the roots aren't causing a planting problem or will constrict new root growth I would leave them to decompose and feed the soil and the critters that live in the soil. They are like free fertilizer.

Good luck anything else just come on back we are always here to help.

Dono

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rainbowgardener
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The sheet mulching works -- put down a heavy layer of cardboard or newspaper (at least 6-8 sheets), wet everything down, and put compost and topsoil on top of that and plant into it. (Don't stir it!)

You can also solarize, that is putting down clear plastic. Bury the edges so it is tight and let it sit. Eventually everything that is in there will cook, but it takes a few weeks of sunny weather, so it may mean you are planting a little late.

If there are things like tulip bulbs in there, they may survive any of this, but then you just pull it when they sprout.
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tillmanclark
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I'm ok with the extra workout.... it sounds like ti would take more time/money to do the sheeting/lasagna option anyways since my garden is pretty big. I'll just mix in compost today, buy some manure this week, let it rot for a a month or two and then add it in a few weeks before planting. I'm planning on planting in May. Any idea what kind of manure I should get? I already have a decent pile of compost built up over years.

Great advice. Thanks!

tillmanclark
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I like the solar idea! Great advice, guys. Thanks!

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gixxerific
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FYI solarization takes at least 4 weeks maybe 6 or more of good sunny warm weather. The best time is obviously during the summer, and don't use black plastic it won't let the light and therfore heat through as much.

Here is a link that might give you some more in depth info on [url=https://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/filelibrary/40/942.pdf]solarization[/url]

The lasagna style Rainbow suggested would do you good to reduce the possible weed growth as well as making the ground more fertile.

Good luck

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soil
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as mentioned above i would just mulch when you get the veggies in, and you wont have a problem really.

if you want to do soil solarization, you need to water the area well first, then put the clear plastic and seal the edges, like said it works much better in the heat of summer and is best used to prepare soil for fall plantings or for the next spring.

after soil solarization you will want to apply a good compost tea to restore the soil biology that was killed in the extreme heat.

oh and if you do solarize, do not till again! this will bring up dormant weed seeds from below the sterile top.
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