k.kilgore
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Yard overrun by 4 ft weeds. How to ready it for next year?

Hi! First post here looking for some advice. I planted my first vegetable garden this spring and then promptly got hospitalized for the next 2 1/2 months. Long story short the baby and I are doing great but my garden, not so much. There are weeds everywhere! like 4 foot tall ones. What should I do to get the garden ready for next year? I started digging up some of the horrible roots and the top of the soil is bone dry but when I turn it over it feels moist, is super black, but is hard as rocks. Maybe it got too compacted? I just don't know since this is my first time around and I'd really like to deal with as much of this now as I can so it won't be a huge hassle in the spring. Any ideas or suggestions would be really appreciated!

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rainbowgardener
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It would help to know how big your garden is. That would give a better sense of how much hand work is realistic.

I think the simplest thing would be chop the weeds down and let them lay there. Water well, cover with a layer or two of cardboard, making sure to overlap the seams. Water the cardboard well and then cover it with a couple inches of topsoil.

Let it sit until spring. By then weeds, cardboard and all should be well broken down and you can turn it all under and plant.

Incidentally, congratulations on the new baby, glad you are both doing well. Welcome to the Forum!
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gumbo2176
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To add just a bit more to what RBG stated. Knowing where you are gardening helps too. Is your weather too cold in the fall/winter to plant? If so, do like RBG suggested and cut the weeds, layer with cardboard and add stuff to the top to hold it all down. Your post mentioned your soil is quite hard now so to save in backbreaking labor you may want to try the following.


I like to add grass clippings and leaves on top of the cardboard since they add much needed nutrients back into the soil. Where I live there is a need to cut grass just about all year long so this is available. These will be well broken down by spring and can be turned under to prepare your garden for planting. Also, do you have access to a horse stable and can get manure, wood shavings and hay when they muck the stalls? If so, that should be well broken down if it over-winters mixed with the leaves and clippings.

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jal_ut
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Congratulations, and welcome to the forum.

Yes, just how to proceed depends some on how large the area is and how your body feels about hard work at this point.

What tools do you have? Roto-tiller riding lawn mower?

A big riding mower can mow down those weeds. A good tiller can also chop them up and mix them with the soil.

Getting some organic matter into that soil will help with the compaction. If the ground is quite dry that in itself makes it hard unless its very sandy.

You say you are new to gardening. Have you decided on a gardening style you would like to follow? There are lots of ways to grow a garden.

If you are making a 1/4 acre garden, I would say rent a BIG tiller and till it all in. If you are only gardening 200 square feet, then pull the weeds and make a compost heap and cover the area with leaves and grass clippings this fall. In the spring, dig it with a digging fork and plant.

Please fill us in a little better on what you have going on and what your aspirations are. You see many of put some info about our gardens and location in our siggy line. Makes it easier to suggest some things if we know more about your situation, and gardening varies all over the country due simply to climate.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

k.kilgore
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I live in Northern Iowa where we have already seen snow flurries :( My garden is about 500 square feet. We have a riding lawn mower and rented a tiller this spring. I have started a compost pile but was concerned that a lot of the weeds went to seed so I may be battling that for awhile. I don't know about horse manure but I do add my rabbit's bedding to my compost. Thank you for the great suggestions. From your ideas I'm thinking to mow it over and layer my partially composted leaves, yard trimmings, etc. on top. Cover it with cardboard and wet it all down. Then till it all up in the spring. Does that sound accurate?

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jal_ut
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OK, mow it then put down the cardboard, then cover with leaves grass clippings etc. A bit of manure or compose, if available, is a plus too. The reason for the cardboard is to smother any growing weeds. Be sure to wet things down well after getting it all on so that it will decompose over winter.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

DoubleDogFarm
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And then I wonder where one gets enough cardboard to cover their garden???? I would need to buy like 15 new refrigerators
Go to the frieght company that delivered 15 new refrigerators. :wink:


Someone in another post covered the chemical issue with cardboard. Cardboard is glued together with starch based glues. Most printing is soy based.

Eric

slyguy
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make sure to remove as much packing tape from the cardboard as possible, also watch for staples. avoid using glossy, usually printed in color, cardboard

k.kilgore
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Thank you all! I'm already excited for next year!

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soil
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I wonder what weeds there are?
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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rainbowgardener
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Interesting point, no one thought about identifying the weeds. I have no idea even what part of the world kilgore is writing from. If it were my yard, weeds that big might be poison hemlock.

But other than poison hemlock (the only plant I've seen do not compost warnings for - the plant doesn't break down very fast and can stay toxic for several season and the toxic alkaloids can be absorbed through the skin, you are supposed to wear gloves to handle it. In case I have made you worried, it looks a lot like Queen Anne's lace except three times as big and fast growing) does it matter much what the weeds are?

Lets see other weeds in my yard that get really big -- pokeweed, greater dock, some thistles, velvetleaf can get that tall, but it is tall and slender. Many of these are things I let stay in my garden for one reason or another.
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ReptileAddiction
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If it were something like bermuda grass which is what I have the cardboard would do absolutely nothing.

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soil
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Which weeds matters greatly. Because the weed will tell you how to move forward. Some it might be as easy as chop and drop. Others may need more of a direct approach. I highly recommend not spraying any poisons or toxins. Every weed has a weak point. Either environmentally or physically.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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