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Joined: Sun May 02, 2004 11:16 am


Good morning. I am looking for some help in starting a vegetable garden in my backyard and I know almost nothing about gardening.

I just removed a portion of grass and weeds in my backyard. The space is approx. 10 x 17 because I thought it would be better to start small. I did this with a shovel and although I did a pretty good job their seems to be alot of stuff left over.

I guess my first question is what is a tiller and should I rent one? also I have read that black plastic mulch will stop the weeds from growing back. Should this be my next step?

Another question I have is about my dog. Do I have to enclose the garden in a fence? or what would be a good solution to control her as she has full use of the yard right now?

These are just a couple of the questions that I'm sure to shoot your way.
Can you help me?

The Helpful Gardener
Posts: 7491
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 9:17 pm
Location: Colchester, CT


Sounds like you have a good start; have you read the article for planning vegetable gardens on our site? Lots of good ideas there.

By tiller I mean roto-tiller, a motorized set of tines that plows up and aerates the soil. It also mixes in whatever soil amendment (peat moss, compost, manure) you like at the same time and gives you a foot or so of deep fluffy soil to start your veggies in. Good stuff, but if you want to do it by pitch fork, your garden isn't too large.

Yes, Fido needs to fenced from the garden; have you seen any plantings he helps out with? (if I could teach a dog to weed I'd get one, otherwise they are just very destructive in ANY garden). For a garden your size I'd fence with a good tall (4' plus) chiken wire; Fido is probably only the tip of the iceberg as we need to keep out rabbits, woodchucks, raccoons, (feel free to insert your own local pest here) etc., etc.

As long as you have chosen a nice sunny spot, and do a diligent job weeding (first year gardens are a bear for weeds) you should have a great garden in no time; be sure to let us know how it turns out...


The Helpful Gardener
Posts: 7491
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 9:17 pm
Location: Colchester, CT

I noted that I said first year gardens are a bear for weeds, and then failed to explain (BAD HG!)

Weed seed from any number of species can lay dormant for decades or even longer; crabgrass can stay buried deep for a century and still be viable! So when we till we bring up a new crop of seed that was laying in wait for a long time; once those are gone weeding gets a lot easier...

Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Mon Oct 25, 2004 8:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

:D It's probably a bit late now but, I recently (last summer) did just about the same thing that you did. I started off with a shovel but, later moved to a tiller. They work great because they go deeper than a shovel and they also mulch up most of the weeds (you therefore, lose less soil).
You are most likely at the same stage that I am at now. What I have done to fortify my soil is first, I planted fall Rye in September and cut it once and I have now (as of yesterday) turned the rye over. I recently went down to the beach to collect a tonne of seaweed (which will go over the top of the garden) and next, I plan on putting a load of Steer manure over the top of that and letting it all sit until next spring when I will till it in again.
The spot where I planted my garden was the site of an old veg garden that had grown over with grass, it hadn't been used in about 15 years and a lot of things that I planted wouldn't germinate and some thing grew really slowly. Hopefully, with the fortification that I am working on now, it will be really great next year. My garden is about 20 x 40 . :wink:

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