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Turning Soil

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:37 pm
by tanpopo
I have recently adopted a corner lot to manage as a community garden space with a few other residents. The space had been used in the past as a garden space, but has sat untouched for a few years. Most of the lot is grass. Our gardening group would like to turn a few sections of the lot into native perennials. However, we have a few questions about turning the soil.

When is the best time to turn the soil? How many weeks or days before planting? Also, is it better to remove the grass that we turn or let it break down on its own?

We do have access to free compost that we will be adding to the soil, but are also not sure when the best time for that is. One gardener suggested the same time we plant and another said earlier is better!?

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!THANKS!

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:16 pm
by smokensqueal
well for a small area the time you turn it isn't really going to matter. The problem you have with turning it is it can either dry out really fast or on the other hand can soak up a lot of water and then you can work it around till it dries a little. And as far as turning under the grass/weeds if there are seed your just replanting them.

My thought and I uses this in my flower garden at home is peal off the top or you can just cut it as short as possible. Lay down a layer of cardboard. Cut holes in the cardboard ONLY where the flowers are going to be. Dig the holes lay back down the cardboard plant the flowers then top it all off with compost. I use this for my annual flowers but would work with perrenials also. By next spring the soil will be so nice and loose on the top that if any weeds would grow they would pull right out. OR you can again peal of a top layer of last years compost/cardboard (if theres any left) and lay down cardboard and compost around the plants again.

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:52 am
by Sage Hermit
Hi tanpopo

the best time is the present..

The method smokensqueal mentioned is one that you don't have to scrap any of the grass just flip it and pile up the dirt.


step 1 [img]https://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa267/adaba/aba043.jpg[/img]

the height of the beds can vary but mine are about 2 1/2 tall


step 2 Add a layer of cardboard over the dirt. This will make a weed sprout barrier.

Step 3 add straw over the cardboard. A layer about 1- 2 inches. dried grass clippings works other people I have seen use wool

[img]https://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa267/adaba/aba060.jpg[/img]

step 4 water your bed heavily

now you have your bed and you can start the last step: place your perenials in. :o

the only thing to do after step 5 is weeding and its advised to throw the live weeds over the grass as added mulch

not sure this method would look good in a down town minneapolis setting but since I am an advocate of this no till method I thought I'd just clearify the system a little bit. Over time the soil becomes more fertile and the need for weeding goes down. :o

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:46 pm
by Sage Hermit
How's it coming along? I was in your neck of the woods all yesterday. I'm going to be doing a similar project in St.Paul so keep us all posted would love to hear more from you and your project as the season unfolds. Its rather warm this time of year. I'm already out in the mix myself and the showers we got were perfect timing. :bouncey: O:)

looking back my own enthusiasm of this method blinded me from seeing smokensquele's methods more clearly I think they proposed a similary idea though. I think their methods would look better than mine. Good luck