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Earth that's been fallow quite a while?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

This is my first year to finally be able to plant directly in the dirt! I've been an urban container gardener up until now.

 

How do I prepare the soil for my garden area? It's been hard-packed with nothing but a few weeds growing in it for several years.

 

We don't have a compost to speak of, though I want to start one, I don't know that it will be ready by planting season.

 

Any advice is appreciated! TIA

post #2 of 10

In my mind, you generally have two main options - dig down or build up. 

 

Digging down will require a lot of work and then you'll want to amend the soil to make it richer and healthier.  Compost is obviously a good place to start.

 

Building up, a la lasagna gardening, will require the purchase of some materials but a huge advantage is that it's not nearly as labor intensive and you can begin the building up by adding multiple layers of either newsprint or cardboard (lots and lots of layers).  The layer on bottom will help prevent the weeds/unwanted plants from getting enough light to survive.

 

Have fun!  We're about to move into a new house and I've already begun thinking about garden placement.

post #3 of 10

I just checked out "How to Grow More Vegetables" by John Jeavons.  He describes a "double digging" way to help the soil.  It seems very complicated to me and beyond my understanding w/o re-reading it many times, honestly, but I'm quite a newbie at gardening beyond stick-a-plant-from-the-nursery-in-the-ground-and-hope-for-the-best, lol.  I've gotten decent results w/ that method :) but think for longterm it's probably better to help your soil be healthy and he describes it.  hey, you used "fallow" in your subject line, so I think you're up for it :)  (off to look up "fallow" :) )

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

ha, thanks onetrumpeter, I'll give myself a vocabulary cookie for that one ;)

 

I've been eye-ing both the Lasagna gardening book and the "grow more vegetables" one. I think a trip to the library is in good order :D

 

The weather was so nice here today that we went out and just sat in the garden area and broke up the dirt some, marking out some areas for beds . . . I'm thinking about trying square foot gardening or just do some 3x3 and 4x4 beds?

 

We haven't a lot of excess $ laying about to start the garden with, so I don't know how much soil amending we'll be able to do.

post #5 of 10


I like How to Grow More Vegetables, but it is very complicated and technical! I think if I had picked it up before I had been gardening for many years, I might have been scared off, honestly. Jeavons has a MUCH less complicated book on Biointensive called "The Sustainable Vegetable Garden" - same ideas, way less math and science: http://www.amazon.com/Sustainable-Vegetable-Garden-Backyard-Healthy/dp/1580080162/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by onetrumpeter View Post

I just checked out "How to Grow More Vegetables" by John Jeavons.  He describes a "double digging" way to help the soil.  It seems very complicated to me and beyond my understanding w/o re-reading it many times, honestly, but I'm quite a newbie at gardening beyond stick-a-plant-from-the-nursery-in-the-ground-and-hope-for-the-best, lol.  I've gotten decent results w/ that method :) but think for longterm it's probably better to help your soil be healthy and he describes it.  hey, you used "fallow" in your subject line, so I think you're up for it :)  (off to look up "fallow" :) )

post #6 of 10

With limited funds, I highly recommend you start with your soil. You can continue container gardening while you do cheap, free, natural improvements to the soil. Spending money on plants and/or seeds and sticking them in hard-packed, only-a-few-weeds-can-grow-in-it soil is quite a gamble with your hard-earned funds.

 

Cover crops and composting directly in the soil and certain plants will help your soil and be inexpensive ways to do something good for it now. Depending on where you live, either attract worms to your soil or buy worms to add to the soil. Feed them (vermicomposting directly in the soil). They'll do a lot of the work for you and for many years!!!

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 

hmm, thanks for the feedback sunnysandiegan. You are right. I am just soooo itching to plant my first REAL garden! I got _One Magic Square_ from the library today and have been thinking about doing a checkerboard of covercrops and then squares of just the basics: tomato, spinach, etc.

 

Still have a lot to think about before I make a seed order, but I kinda feel like I'm running out of time!

post #8 of 10

Do you have, or could you find a source of sheep or rabbit bedding? Seriously-- call a few pet stores. Both can be hoed/ tilled into the soil or into the built up soil for raised beds w/o burning up your plants, like most uncomposted manures do. Fish emulsion is a fairly low-cost and highly effective amendment.

 

I am in a similar boat-- left our wonderful compost heap behind and moved to a lot of long-fallow ground. I'm interested to read some of the replies you get and Thanks! to all the posters!

 

(OH! Tomatoes LOVE rabbit litter! LOVE IT! idk why)

 

We've done square foot gardening (w/o all the intensive double-digging-- just tilled, framed-- or not-- and added extra soil, sometimes bagged soil, and aged bagged manure and fish em) w varying success-- usually pretty good. Before you begin, I'd recommend kneeling and measuring how far you can comfortably reach to weed/ harvest, etc w/o stepping on your bed bc a 4 x 4 square is too big for many women, LOL.

 

Let us know how it goes-- post pix maybe?

 

blessings-- I hope your garden is wonderful!

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

Ugh, I just typed out a post and then my internet bombed!

 

Thanks for the pointers so far; I think I'm just about ready (and in the nick of time, too).

 

Going to aim for crops that will enrich the soild a lot this year!

post #10 of 10

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