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new 1 acre organic garden/farm question

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Hi everyone,

I'm new to the forum.

I have read through a few threads on similar topics but would greatly appreciate any feedback.

I am starting a 1 acre organic farm/garden next spring, and will be working it full time.

I will not be relying on this for my income, but maybe one day hope to.

I know there is lots of debate about whether to till the grass and turn it over or to dig it out with a tool like a sod cutter. I'm leaning towards cutting it out but I haven't fully made up my mind.

My question is, should I remove the grass in the fall or in the spring? I know its not optimal to leave the soil bare over the winter, so maybe a cover crop would be ideal to plant in the fall.

Which would be best:

1. Remove the grass in the fall and plant a cover crop
2. Remove the grass in the fall and get together a bunch of leaves that have fallen and shred them up and mix them into the soil
3. Remove the grass in the spring and plant immediately

I have had a soil sample done with the following results, which I have provided in case they will impact what course is best to take regarding the above:

PH = 6.8
Phosphorus (mg/L) = 3.5
Potassium (mg/L) = 74
Magnesium (mg/L) = 250
Organic matter % = 5.0

Based on the sample, the annual fertilizer requirements are:

Nitrogen (kg/100m^2) = 0.6
Phosphate (kg/100m^2) = 2.0
Potash (kg/100m^2) = 1.6

I have no idea what this means and have been searching around for someone that provides interpretation services and recommendations.

Thank you all so very much for your feedback.
Posts: 3057
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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What kind of grass? Bermuda, as an example, would need a lot more attention than other grasses.

If it's bermuda, you would probably need to cover it in black plastic now so the heat and darkness can get it under control.

Other grasses probably don't need such a drastic approach.

5% organic material? I've heard 3% is the goal. Someone took care of the area.
Posts: 2
Location: Queensland, Australia
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5% organic matter is very good, and your pH seems pretty good too.

I really wouldn't leave tilled ground open over winter, you will be killing all the friendly little microbes. Of your options, I wouldn't bother with 2. If you needed to improve organic matter you could do that, but you would still have bare soil open.

So, between the options of one and two... Would you have use for a cover crop? If you were potentially feeding animals, storing grain, making hay or mulch off of what you grow, you most certainly could choose your first option.

I would personally put in a cover crop. It gives a potentially unimportant crop the chance to get on top of whatever grass you may have, clearing the way for a useful and productive spring without the concern of grass taking back over during the tentative seedling stages where too much soil disturbance isn't helpful.
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Location: Fennville MI
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When you say you are leaning toward cutting the sod, do you mean taking it away from the plot? I would be concerned that removing the grass would mean taking away quite a bit of that organic matter. Personally, I would turn the sod over and sow vetch and winter rye.

Of course, I see that this was an August post. I am late to the party
Posts: 438
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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Look into 'no till farming' and I think you will be surprised. One of its principles is the soil structure is a living organism. Just like our body's skin is its largest organ, the soil is an organ. The soil needs to be covered and protected just as our skin does. Soil does not do well exposed to sunlight, oxygen, and rain. It degrades it quickly. Leaving the 'cloths' on the land will give you better results. Of course the grass needs to be controlled so it does not out compete your early plants. In no till the answer would be to plant an over winter crop, especially a nitrogen fixer like clover. Roll/crush this in the spring and then plant with minimal disturbance to the soil. On can also sheet mulch to kill the surface crop, but don't expose the soil. Cardboard works well.

Watch the first 15 minutes of this video and see if you don't have some insights on how to proceed.


No till is not the only way to go and is only one school of thought. However, more and more evidence points to tillage as very bad for the sub soil 'herd' that exist on your land. Take care of the micro critters, and they will take care of the soil. When the soil is taken care of the crops grow well. Funny that...
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