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Absolute beginner question!

 
cynthia staub
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I want to start my garden! It's been in my head for years now and needs to become a reality.
This is where I need help. I have bare soil. decently packed from years of kids running around on it. It's not too sandy not too much clay.
It never had lawn, just weeds. Right now it's bare with little sprouts of weeds starting to come up from recent rains.
I'm in Southern California FYI. I was planning to start by laying down cardboard to kill the sprouts and any weed seeds that may be laying in wait.
- Should I till the ground before I lay down the cardboard? Do I put the soil and my rich compost mix on top of the cardbaord and let it sit a while before I get started.
Or put the soil and the compost on the tilled ground and then lay the cardbaord?
Or is there another way completely that I have not mentioned here?
Thank you friends.
Cynthia
 
Thomas warren
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Location: Yakima County, E WA
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I would.
How you deal with the soil has a lot to do with what you plan on growing.
 
cynthia staub
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I plan to grow food.
 
Bill Bradbury
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Cynthia, sheet mulching like you are suggesting is a great place to start. Try this thread Sheet mulch
 
cynthia staub
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Thank you!
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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I would advise you to let the weeds root and do their thing. Obserbe them. Learn what they look like. They'll look different as seedlings and adults and at the flowering stages. Learn whats growing. Learn about what you want to grow.THEN. mulch weed chop drop and compost and seed the ever-loving crap out of that yard. That's my advise.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Oh, and obviously don't be afraid to start some trial projects. Just don't take on too much too soon until you start to learn what you're doing.
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Also, do you have pictures. It may help someone more familiar with your local conditions chime in with some really sound advise.
 
cynthia staub
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That was a great thread suggestion. Sheet mulch. Although it makes me think that I'm getting to the planting party late. I was hoping to plant for this spring.

Oh, I've been watching! For 15 years! I get those weeds with the round prickly thorn balls. They served as a nice faux lawn when mowed in the springtimes. There's a bit of crabgrass out there as well.
My 20 chickens did a pretty good job of clearing it all out but I see some sprouts coming in. I plan to start small as I have pretty limited time available to play in the dirt. Great advice though and love your enthusiasm. I feel it!

I attached some pictures but I don't see them in preview. New here : / so not sure if they'll show up.

One is end of spring/beginning of summer. You can see what ;ooks like lawn. It's crabgrass and that prickly ball weed mowed.
The other is end of summer when all weed was fried and incredibly weed pokey balls everywhere.
Last looking toward house is probably sometime in early winter.

Thanks again all for your kind help!


back yard.jpg
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yard late pring
IMG_0424.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_0424.JPG]
yard end of summer
IMG_1289.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1289.JPG]
yard looking toward house
 
cynthia staub
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Hey look, they loaded!
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Awesome! Go to it already then! I know exactly what I'd do with that. I mean not really, but obviously you see the potential too.
 
cynthia staub
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Ha! Yeah! I wanna go to it...just didn't know where to start. Looks like I'll be doing some sheet mulching!
Thanks again!
 
chip sanft
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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cynthia staub wrote:That was a great thread suggestion. Sheet mulch. Although it makes me think that I'm getting to the planting party late. I was hoping to plant for this spring.


There's no reason you can't still plant this spring. Even if the soil's not perfect, planting things like lettuce, chickpeas (you can soak and plant grocery store chickpeas), radishes, etc... Even if the results aren't as good as they will be when your soil is improved, you should get something to eat and more organic matter for your longer-term project.
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Chip's right, there's no reason you couldn't get started planting this spring. Also though, since you are in Southern California and neither daylight nor degree days are likely to be your problems so much as water and soil organic matter I would still suggest thinking about letting those beautiful green weeds grow up to their peak and then sheet mulching on top of that before the dry season kicks in for real. Might help give the worms more to work with.
 
cynthia staub
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Yes, I absolutely will plant some things. I don't usually follow the rules.
This is a great site.
 
cynthia staub
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More questions!
I don't see "western" Unites States in the regional forums. Am I missing it?
I'd like to find some permies near me here near LA. CA.
I'd also like to solicit a mentor, ideally one that lives in my area.
Thanks!!
 
Aljaz Plankl
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Select a garden area, better smaller than bigger the first year.
Start as soon as possible.
I would use back to eden technique here.
In short - put down cardboard or newspaper, then put down compost 6 inches thick and cover that compost with woodchips.
Look at 1 hour 11 minutes 26 seconds - http://vimeo.com/28055108
I hope you can get a hold of materials.
 
Justin Deri
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Location: North Yarmouth, ME
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I'm going to suggest something a little different. Sheet mulching is OK, but biology is a slow process, especially with the compaction I see from your pool and little feet. I'd suggest buying a broadfork and fork some growing areas. No need to fork paths. It will help break up the compaction, won't destroy whatever soil structure you have, and loosen soil for planting. I know that many people look at "tillage" as being the end of the world; however, in reality a primary tillage will make your garden be so much better the first season or two.

Best of luck. And the best time to start your garden is today!
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Certainly Justin's suggestion of taking a broadfork to the plant bedding area is a fine idea - even if you're going to sheet mulch. The sheet mulching in and of itself will do nothing today, about compaction. Possibly over time it can help, as soil biology develops in the mulch layer and works its way down. Getting in there with a broadfork and breaking up the compaction a bit right now will make everything go just that much better going forward.

And I don't think of a broadfork as "tilling". You don't turn the soil, you just punch some holes and give it a little lift, aiding aeration and water penetration, making root access much easier, but without turning the soil over and exposing it to oxygen, dehydration and erosion the way full scale tilling does.

And if you don't have a broadfork (like me) you can get much the same effect with a regular garden fork (digging variety, not a pitchfork). Just stomp it into the ground and rock it a bit to loosen the soil. Do that every few inches across the bed areas and you will make life much easier for your plants.
 
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