Since we have moved and our landlord gave me the O.K. to dig up grass for a garden, I have been planning. Where should it go? How big should it be? I decided and came up with a game plan. While I had to do some research on how to create it (there are several ways, which will be discussed…), I decided and set out to finish it. I really wanted it to be ready in time to have a fall garden. This requirement had a huge influence on my choice of method…
I decided to put the garden in the back south east corner of our yard. The compost box was already set up in between four posts that was once a firewood holder and it offered good light across most of the space. In the midst of planning, I watched the areas of the yard to determine which areas of the yard had sun light at different times throughout the day. I wanted to choose a spot that had good sunlight in the morning (have the best chance of ridding morning dew to prevent the chance of disease), but also to have sunlight for the better part of a day, so that my light loving plants could thrive. The spot I chose gave me the best of both worlds because it has sun in the morning and throughout the day, but a small portion is cut short from a small tree in the neighbors yard. This allows me to utilize that space for plants that can tolerate less intense light, i.e. lettuce.
After I decided the space, I needed to decide the area. While I first decided to have an area 2 – 3 times the size, that quickly changed when it came to getting it ready; and probably all the better because, as I stated earlier in a previous post (seen here), it is better to start off small than to go big and be overwhelmed.
Next, I needed to decide the way to get rid of the grass. In my research, I discovered several ways:
1. Till the grass into the soil. Pros: quick and can plant instantly. Cons: since the grass and its’ roots are tilled and cut into the soil, problems with grass in the garden will be extreme.
2. Remove the grass. Pros: Less of a chance to have extreme problems with weeds and can plant instantly. Cons: Can be tough to remove the grass and can remove top soil.
3. Cover with tarp to create a ‘mulch’. Pros: the tarp can block out light (black tarp) or create a greenhouse effect (clear tarp) underneath. This can create so much heat underneath that it kills the grass and any weed seeds. Once removed, it can be tilled, adding organic matter from the dead grass and with no worries of spreading weed seeds or grass particles. Cons: Takes time (all summer or over winter).
These were the three most common ways that I read about. I could have built raised beds, but I really wanted to save money and use what I had. While I could have chosen #1, I wanted to limit my chance of weeds as much as possible. Weeding always seems to fall to the bottom of my to-do list! I also was afraid to try #3 since I was running out of summer time and I was aiming for a fall garden; therefore, I chose #2. I dug the grass up. And dug. And dug. And then enlisted the help of my husband. And then dug some more. The grass we removed from the area was moved to low spots in the yard that held too much water and so my garden was created. The final measurements ended at 15′ x 9′. The soil seems good, lots of earthworms, more clay once we went deeper, but plenty of sand particle on top.
Once the grass was removed, I tilled. I tilled twice over the course of three days, just to make sure I had good depth. I chose to add humus and manure to the garden area. Why? It was readily available is large amounts, without being too expensive and I wanted to replace some of the top soil that we had removed in digging. I dumped the bags and then raked smooth. Once raked, I tilled again to incorporate the mixture in the soil.
I measured out and marked each foot along the length and depth of the garden and I transplanted my seedlings into the ground using the square foot gardening method. I added a barrier edging around the portion of the garden that met the rest of the yard so to prevent the grass from making its way back in. I also added a fence made from wooden posts, chicken wire and staples to keep my pup from running my plants over in one of his outbursts over a squirrel or lizard!
While it was a lot of work and took some time, it is so exciting to have the space for an in-ground garden! I hope the new space brings us plenty of food and good times. With such a substantial space, I feel is deserves a name… Suggestions??
How did you create your garden area?