Mothering Forum banner
1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
342 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have always wanted a garden. My husband and I bought a plot of land in the middle of nowhere that unfriendly neighbors dumped their trash in for goodness knows how many years before we bought it, just so I could have room for a garden in our budget.

Well since my husband is laid off of work and has nothing to do and I am on Spring Break from my job we finally set to cleaning up and fixing our yard. My dad who is an avid gardner (but currently out of town and unavailable) let us borrow his tiller.

In our excitement to get our garden set up we came home and cut the grass and then immediately set to tilling. I don't know what I was thinking. The section of yard we cut had been virtually untouched in the year that we have lived here so the grass was very very high. DH left all of the grass clippings and we tilled right over it, several times. I was told it would be OK to leave the grass clippings but it looks like a huge mess. In addition to the clippings there is still grass growing everywhere.

I tried to dig the grass up but the roots go on forever. I can't seem to get to the bottom of it. I read that I could suffocate the grass with newspaper but I don't think I can afford the topsoil to go on top using that method. I also don't completely understand how it would work.

I mostly have seeds but, my dad gave me 2 zuchini plants, 9 tomatoes, and a strawberry plant that need to be transplanted like yesterday. I don't know what to do with those plants if I am going to have to wait a long time to start the garden in order to suffocate grass..I also live in zone 9, very deep south, and should have already planted.

All this and my husband bought super poisonous fertilizer because the boy at the feed store told him it was the best and the chicken manure I sent him after would burn up our soil. I am five months pregnant and I have a three year old who is dying to plant her sunflower seeds. I don't want to use the fertilizer because I am afraid of us being around it.

I am broke and frustrated but not ready to give up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,288 Posts
Can he return the fertilizer? Yes chicken manure will burn plants if you don't let it break down a few weeks before you plant there, you'd need to let it compost first. Already composted manure would be much better if you want to plant right away. You can till as well as you can and pull out all the grass you can, plant there, and mulch over it and keep weeding what grass grows anyway, or you could cover it with black plastic a few weeks to kill the grass first then remove the cover. Or do one bed the way I said first (till and keep weeding) and plant that now, and the rest later with the methods that take more time.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,858 Posts
Hey! I worked that plot of land once!


First thing, try to till one more time, in the opposite direction. Meaning, if you went up & down longways, go back & forth short ways. After that, ask said hubby to pick up the biggest clumps of grass, and shake off as much dirt as possible. I used the clumps to build a dirt wall around the edges of the garden to help fortify the chicken wire fence from the SUV sized groundhogs.

Next, send hubby back to store with his weed killer (tell him to think of your unborn babe) and come back with some bags of organic garden soil & compost. I like Miracle Grow Organic Garden Soil not for containers. Right now you can get a huge like 50 lb bag at BJ's for $9. A couple bags of that and a few bags of mushroom compost should fix you in the right direction. You can mix that up in a wheelbarrow or tub and spread it out by hand. If you live near any natural dairies, go out and ask for some aged manure. They love to give it away. My dairy will give you as much as you want in the back of a pick up, or you can take a tub w/ lid and fill it up. Put an ad on Craig's List or Freecycle or check the ads, people have so much sh!t they don't know what to do with all of it. You can spread that out too. Then cover all that up with newspaper at least an inch thick. Put an ad on freecycle looking for that too. Use rocks & straw to hold it all down. Cut criss crosses in the newspaper to dig your holes.

Start composting now. If you have open areas of your garden, you can compost right on in there. Layer it up with paper & straw. You can do it right around your plants too if you don't disturb the roots.

And for the love of the gods, let that little girl plant her seeds! Sunflowers will grow anywhere, so dig her a hole by the front porch and pop them in.

Good luck. It's a lot of hard work, but if you can build up the soil, it's worth it. When/if you can afford it, try some of the weed mat or black plastic. I was hesititant about it at first, but it really made a big difference. It helped me cut a garden out of a pasture that had been there for EVER. It only lasted a few years, until my grandparents sold the farm, but it was worth it. The pasture reclaimed it easily.
You drive by it now and can't even tell there was anything but pasture there. Oh, well, leave it for the goats!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,561 Posts
OKay- the main thing about a garden is the soil. think of it simply like a large pot of soil, but in the ground instead.

First of all, with the transplants from your dad, get some pots and soil and put them in that and water, whjile you get your garden ready.
Then, take a small patch of garden to start. I usually simply cut into the whole grass with my shovel, like- at an angle but sort of straight down, whichever. Put your shovel into the groung the depth of the shovel (get a spade shaped shovel that is small enough to be comfortable)

Then make a little square of cuts down, then literally flip the grass and soil and roots over on it's back.
Do this with 12 or so (for example) squares all next to each other. Then you have a patch of overturned soil. Then shake out all the soil, patch by patch, onto the garden and remove the grass and roots and all and take that aside. Do this with all the patches you have speared and flipped over. Then you have a nice clear area. Then that area will be low and need to be built up with topsoil. You can use some very well composted (at least a yr) manure, or buy topsoil, or find compost. But the key is start small, cut out the grass and shake off the soil, and start then with a clear patch of ground.

The little seeds and starts and roots of what you want to grow need space, and nutrients ( which come from enriching the soil with any well composted thing that can make soil) and water enough.
I wouldn't worry anout the fertilizer and stuff right now. Most important is to get the soil cleared and add some nutrients.

Good luck!
Also- there are a million and one ways to dig a garden, so find a way you like or experiment. What I described is simply the way I prefer to do it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
342 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all the advice. It was helpful. We had planned on trying to return the fertilizer today. I am going to look into getting some manure/compost. We are about to set out and work on the garden again. Hopefully we will be more successful today.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,312 Posts
What a great project! Good idea returning the fertilizer.

A few ideas for you - do you know anyone who raises rabbits? Rabbit droppings are great for the garden, and don't need to be composted first. Anyone who raises rabbits will have more manure than they know what to do with, and will probably be happy to share or sell at a low price. If you don't know anyone personally, check with your local 4-H chapters for kids who are doing rabbit projects, or do a search of rabbit breeders in your area.

Second, you said the plot is in the middle of nowhere, so I'm guessing the garden doesn't have to look gorgeous? What about using layers of old newspaper as a mulch, and cutting holes throught the newspaper where you want to plant? You could cover the newspaper with a thick layer of straw or spoiled hay (which you might be able to get free from a farm or stable). This would really cut down on the amount of weeding you would need to do, and you could probably get the materials for free with a little legwork.

Good luck! I hope it goes well.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,839 Posts
If you can get hold of black plastic off freecycle or get it cheap somehow, that would really cut down on your work. Black plastic (like others said) is the easiest way to kill grass.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
384 Posts
Glad you returned the fertiliser - I like the idea of the flame thrower though that might not kill grass with deep roots - but I can imagine my DH loving giving it a try, lol.

I just wanted to pipe in and say don't try to build Rome in a day.

Pick one small plot at a time.
Prepare it, plant it.

Grass is constrictive but I've successfully grown all sorts of vegetables straight into lawn. We have a large lawn for my LO's to run and play on and sometimes the vege beds get full, so I just plant a temporary garden pot. I just dig out a pot size area, prepare and plant. Your zuchinnis and tomatoes will grow fine like this, leave a ft of straw mulched soil around the base of the plant. Strawberries are too low and might like a hanging pot instead (which will keep away bugs as well)

Dont let lawn put you off and don't wait until your garden is perfect to get started - before you know it will be.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top