getting a new garden plot ready

I have read the advice on this wonderful group for the last 3 years and want to say thanks for all the wonderful posts. I have learned much.
I have gained enough love of gardening and confidence now to expand from my tiny reserved spot and want to get another space prepared, I understand that it really may not be ready for edibles until the next growing season or maybe fall crops.
The space I am using now never had grass on it because of trees which had over grown on my lot- So I did not have to remove grass, once the tree was gone there was/had been years of organic matter and the soil was filled with earth worms. I tilled in some compost and peat moss to loosen things up a bit, since being on the Gulf Coast of Texas just north of Galveston Island our soil is like a patch of black concrete if not amended.
I really would like to avoid toxic chemicals if possible, especially being so close to the bay (maybe 1/2 a mile-if that far) since I know now the effect round up and fertilizers have on the ecosystem of Galveston bay.
I have considered doing this: 1. setting the lawnmower on stealth mode to cut the grass to the quick. 2. laying a thick layer of card board on top of the former grass 3. putting the grass clippings on top of the cardboard 4. maybe some plastic sheets, anchored down on top of all that and just going away for a few months to let it all decompose and the rest of the grass die 5. and because of the ascetics, maybe putting some kind of more attractive mulch down on top of the plastic.
I could build a raised bed, but from my experience the water drains out of them faster and since our summers are HOT and often dry (at least till it floods-not much in between here), I am thinking it might be better to go down not up.
Also, I have considered buying some of those plastic swimming pools and drilling holes in the bottom for drainage and using the square foot method until the grass is dead under the pools next spring, then using that spot.
Does anyone have a better idea or advice? Pros/cons ?
Thanks all!
Norma
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Norma Briggs Wrote:

Hi Norma,
Lots of what you have done and plan to do sounds great, but I'm little confused, so I'd like to clarify. You said:
"The space I am using now never had grass on it because of trees whic had over grown on my lot- So I did not have to remove grass..."
Then you said: "I have considered doing this: 1. setting the lawnmower on stealth mode to cut the grass to th quick. 2. laying a thick layer of card board on top of the former grass 3. putting the grass clippings on top of the cardboard"
So I'm confused as to whether you have grass where you want to prepar a bed or if this is another bed.
If you are going to shear the grass on another part of your lawn jus to get grass clippings, I wouldn't recommend that if you don't have th type of grass that likes to be sheared. If you do have grass where yo want to plant, then the best thing to do would be to either remove th grass with a flat shovel or sod stripper, which you can rent. You ca let the grass decompose in a separate spot or turn it upside down i place. Put either cardboard or 6 to 8 layers of the black printe pages of newspaper on top. Dampen the newspaper as you go or you'll b chasing it all over the yard and entertaining your neighbors like I did You could then put a layer of leaves, and/or grass clippings and/o compost on top of that. I wouldn't suggest using the black plastic a that will cook all those lovely worms and microbes you have worked s hard to have. You can let that decompose over the summer. This metho is called Lasagna composting or sheet composting. http://tinyurl.com/37rht http://tinyurl.com/22hp5
As to adding peat moss, I don't recommend it. It will add som texture, but compost works better and has more nutritional value. Compost will also improve the texture of your soil. Also, peat wil retain moisture, but once it dries, it's difficult to rewet. You might want to read here for info on peat moss.
http://www.ondelmarva.com/peat.html http://tinyurl.com/6odtz
Here's some sites on the soil food web and biology you should find helpful.
http://tinyurl.com/69rfy http://www.soilfoodweb.com /
I don't think you need to purchase those pools. Besides, once you are done planting you will have to do something with the soil you have in them. Dumping it on top of the site will, in effect, give you the raised bed and the pools will be useless with the holes and just fill up the landfill.
So, in the end I recommend stripping the sod or covering it with several layers of cardboard and/or newspaper and doing the lasagna thing. You could add compost on top of that and either plant in it or sow a cover crop (sometimes called green manure) for the summer instead of the plastic and mulch. Then you can turn it all in come fall.
http://tinyurl.com/62ho9 http://tinyurl.com/62enx
Newt
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Newt


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Good points you raised Newt.
This is a new spot.
I had thought of the plastic because I have read about solarizing the soil. -but am thinking now that was with clear plastic.
See this is why I asked BEFORE I started.
I wonder if I get the area reasonably grass free and put down compost, cardboard and newspapers along with a thick layer of hay if that would not be better in the long run.
I might even experiment with seaweed since it is not only plentifully but free, minus the price of gas to go get it. I figure, correct me if I am wrong, that even if it is built up some while I am waiting for the mixture to decompose, eventually it will decompose enough to be able to till back into the soil.
Thanks for the food for thought.
Norma

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Norma Briggs Wrote:

> let the grass decompose in a separate spot or turn it upside down in > place. Put either cardboard or 6 to 8 layers of the black printed > pages of newspaper on top. Dampen the newspaper as you go or you'll be > chasing it all over the yard and entertaining your neighbors like I did! > You could then put a layer of leaves, and/or grass clippings and/or > compost on top of that. I wouldn't suggest using the black plastic as > that will cook all those lovely worms and microbes you have worked so > hard to have. You can let that decompose over the summer. This method > is called Lasagna composting or sheet composting.

> texture, but compost works better and has more nutritional value. > Compost will also improve the texture of your soil. Also, peat will > retain moisture, but once it dries, it's difficult to rewet. You might > want to read here for info on peat moss.

> helpful.

> done planting you will have to do something with the soil you have in > them. Dumping it on top of the site will, in effect, give you the > raised bed and the pools will be useless with the holes and just fill > up the landfill.

> several layers of cardboard and/or newspaper and doing the lasagna > thing. You could add compost on top of that and either plant in it or > sow a cover crop (sometimes called green manure) for the summer instead > of the plastic and mulch. Then you can turn it all in come fall.

Norma, please forgive, but I don't know how to cut and paste all this stuff as I'm posting from a forum and not a usenet.
Seaweed is great to add to compost! You could just layer it on with the rest of the ingredients. Here's some sites on making compost and compost ingredients.
http://tinyurl.com/4opdo http://vegweb.com/composting/what.shtml http://tinyurl.com/4a5w7 http://tinyurl.com/5kv9p http://www.howtocompost.org /
You said, "I wonder if I get the area reasonably grass free and put down compost, cardboard and newspapers along with a thick layer of hay if that would not be better in the long run."
Do try and remove as much of the grass as possible. But that would work.
You said, "even if it is built up some while I am waiting for the mixture to decompose, eventually it will decompose enough to be able to till back into the soil."
Correct!
You're very welcome! Newt
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Newt


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Now, there's an idea. I usually set several large plastic storage containers on top of porous weed paper when planting season comes before I've had a chance to till up an area. I prefer the porous weed paper to the plastic stuff, but I'll warn you that crab grass can grow on top of the porous weed paper.
Would the pool be deep enough? I guess that would depend on what size pool you got, huh? I'll have to think about this one.
Penelope
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"ElissaAnn" < snipped-for-privacy@everybodycansing.com>
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Norma Briggs wrote:

I've done two things to clear heavy grass for a garden. Once I laid down newspaper, a few sheets thick and covered that with mulch. The following spring I just tilled the mulch and rotted paper into the ground. It worked quite well.
Last year I did a much larger area (40 x 50) by laying a heavy plastic sheet on the ground. My father was clearing an area 20 x 100 the same day and we both happened to decide on the same method. He chose black plastic, I went with clear. Both worked about the same except where water collected in mine I had to punch holes. The clear plastic works by letting the sunlight shine through and heating the ground and traping the heat in. It gets quite warm and kills the grass completely, except where collected water keeps it cooler. The black plastic heats up and that heat is transferred to the soil. Water on the plastic doesn't matter as much because the plants are also cut off from light. The big difference, really, was that the clear plastic couldn't take the UV and broke apart. I've got lots of shreaded plastic while his black plastic was good enough for a second spot. On the other hand, I think the clear plastic heats the soil to a higher temperature and kills more weed seeds. We both had weeds but I had fewer. So, either will work well. In the spring, we just pulled up the sheets and tilled the dead grass in.
--
Henry

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On 3/4/05 1:40 PM, in article DB4Wd.39714$ snipped-for-privacy@fe2.texas.rr.com, "Norma

least part of your new garden area. I have no idea how big a plot you might have...but start by removing the sod from one small section...one shovel full at a time. But....before doing that, do the following: Buy some heavy duty metal (mesh type) fencing material (2 inch spacing + -) 8 feet long...even chicken wire will work but I prefer something heavier. Buy (scrounge) qty 4 each 8 foot 2x4. Cut one in half (4 ft) and one into four 2 foot lengths. Put the 8 footers on the ground parallel. Put a four footer at each end and nail them to the 8 footers. (use 2 1/2 or 3 inch nails). In each corner nail in the 2 footers (these will be the legs). So, the 2 footers will be standing up in each of the corners. This does not have to be pretty...:) Turn this frame over so it is standing on the legs. Nail the mesh on top or use a stapler-anything to hold the mesh in place. Put it in the middle of the new garden patch. As you dig up the sod throw it on top of the mesh and let the sun dry it out. The worms will fall back to the garden ground (where you want them,) and the sun will kill the grass and any weeds there. After the sod has dried out, shake them and the soil will fall off. You will then be left with dried out dead sod that you then put into your compost box/bin. It will be light and easy to handle. After you have removed enough sod from a section of your new garden add compost-dig it in-plant away... Then go on to the next section...You can do this a little at a time and as you remove the sod from the second area, you can then plant something else...then on to the next area etc. until all the sod is gone. Even if you cannot finish removing the sod from the whole garden this year you will at least be able to enjoy vegetables from the areas you have cleared. :) Gary PS: The most important thing about removing the sod is that it is removed! and you won't have grass coming up again year after year...
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garpal Wrote:

Gary, Great idea! I really like your method of drying out the sod. Newt
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On 3/23/05 6:57 AM, in article 1111608518.8d320665cf5ab376c6878fdcb73ae7e9@teranews, "Newt"

a poster knows to make an appropriately detailed (or not detailed) post. I used that frame for my garden (90'x20') when I dug it up the first time. I now use the frame for setting out transplants etc. although it is bigger than I really need. I still throw sod on there at times... Gary
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