Converting grass lawn to vedgie garden.

My little lady and I finally got out of apartment living to buy a little condo with about 500 square feet of grass that we'd like to turn into a vedgie garden. So.. .I went out and got a shovel, a hoe and a pickaxe. We weeded out what wasn't grass and set to work breaking up the sod.
Now, we live in Hawaii so the sod is thick, thick, thick. So thick, in fact, when I pull a chunk out and examine the cross-section, it's hard to decide where grass+air ends and roots+soil starts. It's coming up like carpet.
How do I break this up to be ready for vedgies?
Thanks in advance.
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You have two choices~~ Either, bury the turf inverted and at about nine inches as you cultivate, or skim it all off before digging and stack it for a few months to rot before spreading it over the dug soil. The first option is the best. Best Wishes

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First, I'd spray it with roundup to kill it, so you don't have as much problem of it coming back. Then, trying to dig out that much by hand will be a real back-breaker, so do yourself a favor and rent a sod-cutter. They usually aren't much more than about $20 per hour, and they'll let you take out quite a bit of sod in an hour.
As an example, one of my neighbors took out more sod in a single hour with a sod-cutter than they were able to take out in 4 hours of working at it by hand.
steve
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I use Roundup sometimes, but in this case there's another possibility. You can put down a sheet of black plastic, and after 10 days or so when the grass has died simply cut slits where you want to plant the veggies. Then remove the plastic when the seeds start to sprout while they're still tiny enough not to catch on the plastic. The sod rots away and acts as mulch for the new plants.
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Dave Gower wrote:

It takes more than 10 days to kill the sod. I put black plastic down over grass for a temporary greenhouse once and it was spongy to walk on for about a month and a half. Moreover, the growing point is underground for grass, so it takes more effort to kill it. You might get rid of the leaves, but once you take off the plastic, the grass will recover (maybe not to the lush-lawn standard, but certainly to the garden-weed standard).
Why not leave the plastic on the garden when you plant. You can cut holes for the plants and leave the rest to block the weeds. This works great for transplants. You might want to put some stones or bricks on the plastic adjacent to the holes so the plastic doesn't shift when the wind blows and abrade the plant stems. If you're direct seeding, the stones will keep the plastic from shifting to cover the seeds you want to grow.
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Hmm. By my experience 10 days is plenty, but maybe it differs with climate, type of grass etc. At any rate it's always an option to leave the plastic down longer, but that makes it harder to water the new plants. Cheers.
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Rent a sod cutter. Strip the sod off and compost it. Till the garden. Removing the sod also removes most of the weed seeds, so you will end up with a more weed-free garden than you could otherwise.
Bob
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If you know what kind of turf this is, the answer will be more accurate. If it's coming up like carpet, it is probably St. Augustine or Zoysia sod. When I convert turf to a bed I mow it as low as the mower will allow, and I fully water it 2 nights before I am going to work it. In Hawaii you don't have to water, as it rains there almost daily, no?
Anyway, you will need a thin tine fork. Stick that into the sod and bring it up and the soil will come with. I sit there and pry apart the roots and separate the soil from the clump. That's painstaking, but you will have beautiful soil. The chunks which don't break easily I push through a sieve I made from hardware cloth and an artists stretcher frame...cheap.
Then I add whatever amendments of compost, lavasand, basalt, greensand, etc.
I would not suggest using any chemical method to get rid of turf as I can see others have. It's nice to get in the soil and feel around. There is a great sense of accomplishment and when the plants feed you, you know exactly what they are growing in.
Victoria
On Fri, 14 Nov 2003 19:43:53 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@telling.com opined:

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Very excellent reply, animaux. Thanks for the step-by-step :)

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Many thanks for the replies, gents. Now, when you speak of composting the sod, is there anything I add to the sod? A bacteria culture, perhaps. How do I compost something so large and with so much soil in it? I'm worried that it'll just be an incubator for weed seeds.
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Hi neighbor. I'm in Waialua, HI. I recently tilled up my front lawn (about 600 sq. ft.). The only difference is, I plan to replant grass (zoysia) instead of veggies like you. I rented a roto-tiller and just tilled it all under. I should have sprayed it with Round-Up first, I suppose, but I did sift the top 6 inches afterwards through a 1" x 3/4" wire mesh which removed most of the grass/weed clumps and stones. Most of the grass and weeds were dead already since we've had such a dry summer and I didn't water that weed patch at all. After tilling, I used a 2 x 4 to level it using a back and forth motion like you'd do to wet cement. Then, I fertilized and watered for a week or so to sprout the weed seeds and the grass stems that were left. I sprayed that with Round-Up. Two weeks later I gave it a second spot treatment with Round-Up (there was hardly any thing green by then) and now I'm ready to plant my grass seed sometime next week. The same routine should work for planting veggies. You can use mulch and weed cloth to inhibit weed growth between your rows. The mulch will reduce your watering as well. Lowes sells 3' x 50' Dupont Weed Block for about $5 a roll. The cheap stuff at Wal-mart didn't look very durable.
You can get bulk compost from Hawaiian Earth Products (in Campbell Industrial Park or Kailua) for $40 cu. yd. if you have a pick-up truck. The general purpose lawn/garden compost & soil mix (60/40) is $32/cu.yd. http://www.menehunemagichawaii.com /
You can get free mulch from several locations (I got mine from the community garden across from Wheeler AAB in Wahiawa). http://www.opala.org/recycling_at_home/greencycling.html#mulch
Composting Info. http://www.recyclehawaii.org/HG-41.pdf
Seeds. A bit more than Wal-mart seeds but a much wider verity and better descriptions/instructions than the Burpee packaged seeds. http://www.superseeds.com / http://seedrack.com / http://www.stokeseeds.com
That should about do it. Good Luck.

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Frank, I appreciate the follow-up. I'll be lifting the turf out separate to remove as many weeds from the garden first... and I'm sure glad you mentioned the Weed Block. We had totally forgotten about that.
On Sun, 16 Nov 2003 05:53:11 GMT, "Frank Monroe"

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