Curly
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Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:02 pm
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada

Preparing a new garden

Hi all, this is my first post here, so have patience please if stupid questions come from my corner.
We just bought some new property, a former elementary school, and we're planning to turn the lawn area into a big vegetable garden. So far my plan incudes: cultivate area, bring in good soil (might have to be well rotted manure from local cattle farmers), spread, dig, and keep cultivating for the rest of the season. Then next year start my garden there. Whaddaya say? Should I maybe plant something to dig under? As you can probably tell I know very little about soil, so any help would be greatly apreciated. Thanks.

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Lupinus
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Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:12 am
Location: Upstate SC

I'm in a similar boat.

If you are going to be buying some good soil to mix in you may as well plant. I have no time to compost my own this year but will be buying some good soil to till in, as well as mixing in some leaves and other organic stuff to loosen the clay.

I don't expect high yields this year, but it should be enough to make it worth the effort and get me going for better yields next year.
By cultivating the beautiful we scatter the seeds of heavenly flowers, as by doing good we cultivate those that belong to humanity.
Robert A. Heinlein

Curly
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Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:02 pm
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada

Leaves, that's a good idea! Just thought of something else. Will I have to kill the grass first? I hate herbizides, but I don't want to be fighting the grass in the garden forever.

cynthia_h
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Location: El Cerrito, CA

Although it sounds like you have as much space as you could want, you might still be interested in biointensive methods to keep your square area, and thus your maintenance and water requirements, lower than otherwise.

I therefore recommend John Jeavons' How to Grow More Vegetables (in Less Space than You Ever Imagined), whose 7th edition is now available. His website is www.bountifulgardens.org -- you can purchase the book there, as well as videos and other materials on his methods.

Jeavons begins at the beginning, assuming that you will be bringing land into cultivation for the first time. He gives you information on how to work the soil, how to determine what it may (or may not) need in the way of supplementation, and how to plan crop growth.

I LOVE his book. I'm just sad that I don't even have ONE 5' x 20' bed to devote to implementing his methods.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I don't worry about killing lawn grass or digging it up when starting a new garden bed any more. Here's a relatively thorough description of how I did it last spring.
http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10732
If you don't have enough material (mulch, soil, compost, etc.), you could just make one or two beds this year, and add a couple more next year. There's really no need to hold off on planting anything. Do a few searches for lasagna garden, sheet compost, etc. for more descriptions. Check out the Permaculture subforum too.

FWIW: Here are some links to threads in which I described my veg garden from last year:
http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=39380&sid=4b8279a67f58583c02ad946120d0a8ba
http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8291
Oh, and here's another photo:
[img]http://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/Image2355.jpg[/img]

Here's a link to the sunflower house thread. You can see that the sunflowers and corn grew quite well where it used to be just lawn, in what amounts to 2' and 1' rows.
http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8140&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

Curly
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Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:02 pm
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada

Thank you all! Now I have so much to read and think about. Maybe I take the advice to start with one or two beds this year and keep adding. I'm originally from Switzerland where I have never seen anything but raised beds, but here there is so much space that everyone is working their gardens with the tractor and planting in rows. I can see the advantages of both methods.

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