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One way to start a new garden from lawn  RSS feed

 
Todd Parr
pollinator
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Many people know this already, but I find step-by-step instructions useful, so maybe this will help someone just starting out.  To start with, I put down a piece of rubbing roofing, and hold the edges down with stones.  You can use whatever you have to cover the area.  The area is 15 by 24.  I like to start gardens approximately this size because it is large enough that you can grow a substantial amount of food, but small enough that it is easy to keep up with and isn't overwhelming.  I left the rubber down about a year because I have quack grass, and I want to make sure it is completely dead.  If you get an area covered now, it will be ready for next spring's garden.

Immediately after removing the rubber, my hard clay soil is soft and easy to work with, thanks to ants, voles, snakes, and other creatures that live under it.  You can rake it easily, something that will be impossible shortly.  I never undercover the area I am working with until I am ready to use it.  Leaving it exposed for even a day can bake it into a brick again.  This is how it looks immediately after removing the rubber and giving it a light raking the smooth out the ant hills.



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Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1102
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
36
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On this garden, I used composted wood chips provided by the "city".  I live in a rural area, so the city is actually a town, but they compost huge amounts of wood and make it available to the people in the surrounding area.  You can get wood chips in any stage of composting.  I use very rough stuff for paths, and the stuff that is much more broken down for starting gardens.  If the material you get isn't broken down as far, you mulch an area, and then move the chips aside and plant in the soil beneath.  These chips are pretty broken down, so I'm planting directly in them.  The following pictures are the material I'm using, and the garden area after being mulched.

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Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1102
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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This particular garden won't be used until spring, so I'm planting a cover crop of oats right now to get "roots in the ground", and to add organic matter.  When the oats get a couple feet tall, I'll chop them down and plant tillage radish, and peas.  Those will winter-kill and by spring I'll have a lot of organic matter in the soil and the roots will have broken the soil up enough that water can penetrate easily.  Worms love the radishes, so they come into the area in very large numbers.  The peas will help bring in nitrogen, and the garden will be ready to be planted.  The area planted with oats and "finished.

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Todd Parr
pollinator
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Just for fun, one more picture.  This is my lady standing in front of one of the many "mulch mountains" free for the taking, as long as you don't mind some work.
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mary jayne richmond
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Todd, thanks for sharing this,.. this looks very doable
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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mary jayne richmond wrote:Todd, thanks for sharing this,.. this looks very doable


It is   That's why I wanted to show this.  I think some people may be afraid to get started or not know how.  For a couple hours work, including time to load the mulch, this will be a productive garden next year in an area that was just quack infested lawn.
 
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