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Converting lawn to garden without tilling

 
Calvin Salmon
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Is it necessary to completely remove grass before planting veggies? Can I not just poke holes in the ground for my seeds, cover them up, and let the plants gradually crowd out the grass?
 
Michael Milligan
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'Sheet mulching' is your trick. Use a layer of wet newspaper or cardboard, then cover that in a thick layer of whatever you want to plant it. Then plant in it. Simple as that!
 
Calvin Salmon
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Thanks Michael!
 
Ben Cains
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Hey not sure if you have started on your garden yet?

Sheet mulching is wicked agreed.

Do you have a place where you can have chickens? They are a great way to prepare an area for planting. geoff lawton uses a mobile chicken coop with an electric fence to prepare the soil for food forests.

Here is a tour of the Permaculture Institute of Australia which shows him and his chickens benefitting from the system

http://permaculturenews.org/2012/06/01/zaytuna-farm-video-tour-apr-may-2012-ten-years-of-revolutionary-design/

Maybe not helpful in your situation?

Sheet mulching is easy to do in urban areas with all the materials being easy to come by and cheap/free.

Good luck
 
Rosalind Riley
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Location: Kent, South-east England, UK
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Hi Calvin

If you can bear it, it's not a bad idea to turn the turf upside-down before you mulch. The grass rots down quicker and is all confused by having its toes up. Not a job without sweat, however!

Cheers
 
nustada adatsun
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I have no experience with it, but I am considering setting up a chicken tractor to remove my lawn a bit at a time.
 
Michael Milligan
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nustada adatsun wrote:I have no experience with it, but I am considering setting up a chicken tractor to remove my lawn a bit at a time.


Even then, you'll want to sheet mulch. They chickens aren't going to eat all the grass roots and weed seeds.
 
Julia Franke
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Location: Berks County, PA
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so flipping the grass over is NOT considered tilling? That's what I've been doing, a row at a time and I've been racking my brain how to do it with out breaking the ground like that. I heard someone say that way you break up the sod you end up hurting the land. Its like an open scab. I've also been using the ruth stout method of heavy mulching.
 
Paul Cereghino
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Some people don't till for spiritual reasons. Rivers till, and so do buffalo, and my moles till too. Most studies I have seen suggest that all the critters disturbed by tilling come back pretty quick. All the no-till approaches are attempts to get off of the tillage treadmill, but you can garden with tillage quite well while building soil organic matter. Some common vegetable species like mustard and spinich families show no evidence of direct fungal symbiosis and many vegetables really benefit from a slug of manure. You can also garden without tillage, but I think there are more ways to get poor yield. I understand that our forum is passionate about no tillage (as I am), but I just wanted to put the spectrum on the table.
 
nustada adatsun
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Paul Cereghino wrote:Some people don't till for spiritual reasons. Rivers till, and so do buffalo, and my moles till too. Most studies I have seen suggest that all the critters disturbed by tilling come back pretty quick. All the no-till approaches are attempts to get off of the tillage treadmill, but you can garden with tillage quite well while building soil organic matter. Some common vegetable species like mustard and spinich families show no evidence of direct fungal symbiosis and many vegetables really benefit from a slug of manure. You can also garden without tillage, but I think there are more ways to get poor yield. I understand that our forum is passionate about no tillage (as I am), but I just wanted to put the spectrum on the table.


I wouldn't put it down to just spiritual reasons. I live in a wheat farming area. They have to irrigate and import fertilizer. Tilling causing water loss and nutrient runoff. If you go onto a crop you can dig 6 feet down and not find earth worms. That just is not right right. However I doubt scraping a few inches off the top your soil and immediately composting it would count as tilling.
 
Paul Cereghino
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Words are so slippery... try again
"Some people are motivated to stop tilling because of emotional or spiritual connection to the earth (which I don't perceive as a weakness or a problem), although there are many other reasons to minimize or reduce tilling. However I don't believe that all mixing, turning, or inversion of the soil can be easily linked to some kind of permanent ecological harm, and mechanical tillage it is a very useful tool to have in your tool belt."

Often no-till systems involve using a knife or sickle to chop and drop competing vegetation, which is hard-on-the-back stoop labor, compared to clean cultivation of seedlings with a sharp hoe from an upright position ala elliot coleman.
 
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