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Author Topic: Breaking ground for new garden  (Read 7690 times)
jdesq
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« on: December 28, 2006, 02:04:40 PM »

I want to add a 30 foot by 70 foot garden  to my yard and I'm looking for suggestions on how to bust up the sod  for the first time. I have a Troy rototiller but it is no good at breaking sod. This is  too small of an area to bring in a tractor but too big to do by hand with a shovel. What would be the best way to do it? if I had to rent some equipment what would you reccomend? I appreciate all suggestions.
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Romahawk
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2006, 06:35:58 PM »

Gee my Troy built does a great job on sod. I set the depth control at 2 inches for the first pass over the garden plot. I set the depth control at 4 inches for the second pass over the entire plot and finish up with the depth control set to max on the third time over the plot. It takes awhile with a fresh piece of ground but I end up a great soil mix.
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Jorn Johanesson
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2006, 06:41:10 PM »

So to do it, or back to old times hard work smiley
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mick
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2006, 07:26:34 PM »

You can do it the lazy way if you like. Kill off the grass with Glysophate, cover it with an inch of newspaper, water it really well,  then straw over the top. Cover the straw with a sprinkling of manure, water in well, more straw, more manure,more water,repeat till you have a good pile three feet high, atch it shrink down, keep it moist, wait a couple of weeks or so, then plant through the straw.

Its called no till gardening and really works.

The days of turning over the soil to a depth of a couple of feet are long gone. The idea is to leave the nutrients, bacteria and microbes that live in the top 6 inches of soil where they are.

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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2006, 09:35:43 PM »

I use the no til method in raised beds.  Just build the beds, layer in the compost and plant.
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randydrivesabus
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« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2006, 03:44:56 PM »

a turning plow would be the right tool but then you would have to follow with a disk before you rotary till.
if you've got a neighbor with a tractor and a plow and a disk i'm sure he wouldn't mind doing it for you for a nominal fee especially if he's looking for some seat time. i have a 50x100 area i want to plant in strawberries and will be plowing tomorrow.

if that is not available then strip the sod off with a square shovel and then have at it with the tiller.
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« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2006, 10:32:17 AM »

When breaking sod,you will have to make a few light passes with the troy bilt.Set it for shallow depth and increase it with each pass.I have a 50 x 50 garden in some of the hardest earth you can get.
Every time it  gets easier except for the rocks I need to harvest  every year!
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reinbeau
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« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2006, 04:38:10 PM »

You can do the no-till garden thing without the use of glysophate with layers of newspaper and layers of compost.  No need for chemicals whatsoever.
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Jorn Johanesson
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« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2006, 06:33:05 PM »

You can do the no-till garden thing without the use of glysophate with layers of newspaper and layers of compost.  No need for chemicals whatsoever.

have you been thinking of the cemicals in the newspaper! I think of glue and printing ink, If you go Organnic Huh
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reinbeau
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« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2006, 07:24:31 PM »

You can do the no-till garden thing without the use of glysophate with layers of newspaper and layers of compost.  No need for chemicals whatsoever.

have you been thinking of the cemicals in the newspaper! I think of glue and printing ink, If you go Organnic Huh
The ink used in most newspapers here in the US is soy based and totally bio friendly.  I have no idea what kind of glue you're thinking of, it isn't used here. 

The newspaper method is mentioned in many organic publications, I wouldn't recommend it if it weren't.
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amymcg
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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2006, 10:55:47 PM »

I don't till anymore, just brings the weed seeds up to the surface. Put some thick pads of newspaper where you want your beds, then water heavily, then do what mick said, or get the book "lasagna gardening" Cheap and easy and your beds are ready to plant.

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Cindi
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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2007, 10:40:32 AM »

I do not agree with this newspaper thing.  So many say it is a great thing.  But, I must surely wonder if it is like adding too much sawdust.  Newspaper comes from wood and, correct me if I am wrong, but does not wood use up lots of nitrogen in the soil?  Making acidic soil?  I may be on the wrong path. 

I would sooner just plain and simply use other stuff like (if you don't have an enormous area), bagged mushroom/steer manures and products.  Great day.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2007, 11:22:23 AM »

any mulch that is going to decompose uses nitrogen from the soil.
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reinbeau
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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2007, 10:03:00 PM »

That's right, any mulch that decomposes will use nitrogen from the soil.  What the newspaper does is smother the grass, and no amount of mulch will do this.  This isn't something I dreamed up, it's advice given my any number of gardening books and organic gardening information I've read over the years.  It works.  I've done it myself several times with great success (and I'm no newbie to gardening, I've been gardening here in this yard since 1978, had a successful gardening business over the years, and started gardening when I was a little girl - we won't discuss how long ago that was!  cool

I would never recommend the use of chemicals to kill turf, which was the other alternative.
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Cindi
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2007, 10:15:18 PM »

Ann, OK, great, thank you very much for the information.  I do have some rather stubborn places where I would love to deaden the wild stuff. I refuse to use any herbicides, so it has always been tilling and hand pulling.  So, now I shall employ the newspaper on some spots.  Awesome.

I have a small rototiller that is called a "Mantis".  It has the power of nothing that you could ever believe on this earth.  It weighs about 20 pounds no more.  I have tilled heaven and earth with this little machine.  It bumps rocks out of the ground that are twice the size of a softball, it just unearths them and they go bumping off to the side.  You could never believe it unless you have seen it.  I have spent hundreds of hours, along with my sister using it too, to cultivate areas around here. 

If you ever get a chance go back and look at my post about my rock pile.  All the rocks that are smaller than a basketball were bounced out of the earthy by this mightly rototiller.  I can go on about things.  But if one ever wants a very simple, but EXTREMELY powerful little lightweight rototiller, with a lifetime guarantee on the tynes, this one is for you.  It was about $500 CDN, but honestly over the past 3 seasons of tilling, it has paid for itself over and over.  My husband has the big one.  It is a husqvarna, rear driven big daddy.  It does a good job too, but it is  alittle large for me to operate, mine is woman size (or even man sized).  My grandson who is 12 can run it too.  Simple.

Does anyone else have this Mantis cultivator?  The site is below.  I highly recommend this piece of machinery, never regretted a penny spent with it.  Great day.  Cindi

http://mantis.com/ttrack.asp
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
reinbeau
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« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2007, 07:14:15 AM »

I LOVE my Mantis!  Smiley  It's a great little machine.  I had the two-stroke for years and never had any trouble with it.  Two years ago a tree fell on my house (a bit of damage) and shed (squashed it!), and the Mantis got smushed, too.  The insurance company gave me enough money that I bought the four stroke Honda engine.  It's much quieter and more powerful. 

As for the newspaper, you really only need five sheets or so, it doesn't have to be very thick. 

I spent yesterday afternoon out in the garden spreading manure on my asparagus patch and weeding.  I can't imagine weeding in January, in unfrozen earth, but I did it!  What a strange winter.  It is supposed to cool off this weekend, and snow by Monday, I'll believe it when I see it.  High temp today is predicted to be 70!!
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Cindi
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2007, 08:42:33 AM »

Ann, I could not actually believe that anything could be more quieter than the Mantis, I can hardly hear mine running when it is.  And something more powerful?  Don't get that either.  Maybe bigger, but more power?  LOL.  I guess of course there are more powerful ones of course.  But this Mantis is a miracle worker.

We have had the wierdest weather the past two days, and I mean weird.  Thursday morning very high winds, blew all clouds away, clear skies all day.  Friday the wind came again and the heavy heavy rain all day long.  Last night (Friday still) incredible rainstorm and very high high wind, gusts that you could hear howling and the cedars near the ravine just as loud.  Now, wind scares me.  It is one of the forces of nature that I do not like one little bit.  I could never picture living with a hurricane or tornados, I probably would have a heart attack and die for sure.  so the wind and rain blew long into the night, I know, I don't sleep well.  The wind must have stopped sometime before 4:00 A.M.  I woke up about 3:45, wide awake and got up, went to my front porch and looked outside at the skies.  Not a single cloud, nor wind.  The full moon glaring down on my yard, casting that eerie ghostly shine on the now frozen ground.  The moon in the winter is high, like the sun on a summer noonday.  The shadows are short.  Very beautiful and cold.  Thank goodness the rain (of course no freeze when we have rain, it is quite warm then) had stopped and the wind has gone by the wayside.

I am sitting here listening to all the wind chimes still ringing a little bit, so there must still be wind, but light.  It does not take much to get the chimes making their beautiful sound.  I have 3 sets of large ones hanging off my front porch, all with different tones, it is pretty.

Last year I spent a couple of months cultivating an amazing amount of area infront of the apiary with the Mantis rototiller so I could begin the process of planting flowers for the bees, with the intent of gathering seed to spread around the rest of my property, which we had cleared last summer (about 4 acres).  The burn pile that resulted is unimaginable.  When this burn occurs, it will be a 72-hour burn, manned for these hours, the "burner guy" using his industrial fans to blow the fire so that it burns down as quickly as possible, so that it is not a long burning issue. I have issues with the environment and fire smoke.

The two men involved in the land clear were friends of my son-in-laws, a tree faller and a young man who owns an excavator.  Between both of them, about 95% of the hardwood trees were removed.  Dangerous trees, these being the alders, and most of the cottonwoods.  All of the coniferous trees were left in groves, untouched -- and it has turned out to be very pretty and will be still forested, but to a more workable degree.  We are planting pastures and required all the vegetation that was not necessary to be removed.  Knowing well that the grasses, clovers and all will grow with much more content without the deep shade that was present with all the deciduous trees.

This was a hard decision on my part because I am a tree hugger, but there are certain things that one must give up for progress, and we needed the land cleared. 

I am putting on two pictures, first taken February 2.06 and the second May 5 06.  The first one was when I began the land cultivation with the Mantis, the second one was taken when the spot had been levelled out more, ready for planting.  It was a fun project.   This land cultivation was only a small part of the work that I did with the rototiller in other areas.

I planted several species of bee plants in this particular area.  They were borage officinalis, phacelia tanacetifolia (blue tansy), California poppy, Mediterranean sage, cosmos (several cultivars), catnips, lemonbalms, anise hyssop, many cultivars of sunflowers, lots of tomatillos and ground cherries (Cape Gooseberry) (for pollen), pumpkins, squashes (butternut, acorn, spaghetti, zucchini).  That is what I focused on for bee forage.  There are lots of other fruits and vegetables that I grow that is awesome for their uses as well.  It was a sight for the eyes last summer when I would go out to watch the beneficial insects on all these nectar and pollen producing plants.  I never realized there were so many species of bumblebees in particular.

All these plants that I planted last year all are self-seeders.  I gathered pounds of seeds throughout the course of the late summer and deal with them accordingly, so I could spread their progeny over the rest of my property in groves of course.  So, I anticipate enormous nectar and pollen yields next summer.

It is an interesting event with the self-seeding annuals because when the seeds are good and ready to germinate, they will.  I can carry on the season for a very long time with the later sowing of the seed that I have gathered.  The bees (and all the other pollinators that will be present) should have foraging material right from the get go of spring right until the killing frost in October.  It should be a really happy year for the girls.

Great day.  Cindi







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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
reinbeau
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« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2007, 11:07:04 AM »

Cindi, I'm sorry I didn't make myself clearer - it's a four stroke Honda engine Mantis  grin  I love it.

I've lived on this property since 1978.  It's not big by any means, just over half an acre, but I'm very happy with it.  The house is a nice size, built in 1953, I added a garage and a kitchen addition.  The gardens have been fun, because as I laid them out I discovered older borders that the first woman who lived here installed.  Unfortunately there aren't many plants left of hers, but it's been interesting to see we followed basically the same lines.

My main gardens are in front, because up til just a while ago there wasn't much sun in my backyard.  I did have woodland wildflowers out there, though, and rhododendron plantings, along with a gorgeous halesia I planted back in 1980 that's stunning when it blooms.  I've already posted some pictures of the front, someday I'll get the rest posted on my webpage.

Two years ago my cesspool failed.  Due to what's called Title 5 here in Massachusetts, it had to be totally replaced with a septic system and a leach field (it was bound to happen).  This is what my backyard looked like before the septic install (if I were better with photoshop I could combine these two!):



Then the trees came down and the septic install happened:



Once it was finished, only my halesia and the triple-trunk red oak remained:


The bees went down back, and I put in a 30x35' veggie garden (sorry the picture isn't better, I need to take another one next spring):



So on a mini scale I know what you mean.  I hated to lose the trees, but it's opened up so many possibilities.  We haven't put in a lawn yet because we're still deciding on a few things.  It will come.  Unfortunately the triple-trunk oak, the only shade left for the house, was blown down in the horrible winds we had back in October '05.  The arborist I had look at it back when we first took down the pines told me it was healthy - what an idiot.  It was rotted at the base and full of carpenter ants, it should have come down with the rest.  Oh well!  Within the next month the tree service is coming back to take down around 11 or 12 trees around the perimeter of the property to give both the gardens and the bees more sunlight. 
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Kirk-o
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« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2007, 04:21:54 PM »

I use the Ruth Stout no weed no work method lots of horse manure and straw and newspaper plant through the compost works great saves water
kirko
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rusty
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« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2007, 05:46:49 PM »

First get a goat to chew down the vegetation,
Next get a couple of pigs to rotovate and manure it
Then some chichens rake to it about and munure it some more
Then plant potatoes,
JOB DONE! grin
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