converting grassy slope to garden for next year?

My landlords have offered for me to use a 5x12 square of lawn at th eedge of my patio for next year's gardening. This year was a definite success.
The area has a gentle slope (about 4" in elevation) and is covered in grass and weedy bits. I have a hole in th center which I have seen chipmunks dart into but I don't think it is their home. There is a large hydrangea (5' round) at one end, open grass at the other. The north and south edges are defined by the patio and a rock retaining wall down to the gravel and grass of the next level down.
I'm contemplating what I would need to do to prep the grassy area into a garden. How far should I stay away from the Hydrangea? I don't want to dig and damage its root. I would probably want to turn up the top 6" or more and add fertilizer, peat, perlite, humus, manure. Also bring it more level so I don't get runoff and puddles. Do I need to strip/throw away the sod, or can I turn it under and maybe black plastic it to kill the grass? I seem to recall reading about a treatment of heavy newspaper for a few months. Should I do it now before winter?
I'm not concerned with it looking like a mix of grass and vegetables, although weeding would be the big issue. I'm trying to judge how much work vs. what I would grow there. I can probably grow 2' tall plants without shading the containers at the edge of the patio. I can always move those around. I'm tempted to try a square of corn.
DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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Tomatoes, beans, squash & cucumbers would be a better choice. You really need more space for corn. You would get 10 to 15 ears at most, and at 20 cent an ear at the grocery, that doesn't may CENTS!! I'd eliminate the chipmunks in that area one way or the other. One way is rat poison down that hole deep enough that cats and dogs don't get to it.
Good luck on the garden
Tom J
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possibilities for next year. However the only way I will do it is if I'm committed to pickling them since cucumbers repeat on me, but I *LOVE* pickles and relish. Squash (like eggplant & zucchini) is something I eat more when someone else makes it. Unless I really force myself to make and eat it a lot, I will be giving most of it away.
Watermelon and canteloupe are two things I'm interested in trying next year. Also I'd like to start two grape vines. I haven't settled on where to locate them yet or whether to make them permanent or try large containers.

driveway. I think the one I saw duck in this hole was frightened by me. The hole has been there for years and I wouldn't be surprised it if it was manmade.
Despite the chipmunks, a black cat, six squirrels living in front of the house and small birds everyone I suffered no "wildlife" damage. I'm going to plant a few bulbs this fall--so that may change.

DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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Six Squirrels?? Next year there will be more and they know the day corn is ready to be shucked, so another reason not to try corn!! BTW, a couple of watermelon vines would cover the whole area, so that's something else better bought at the market.
Tom J
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that run along the telephone lines each day across all the backyards.

ones. I was thinking it could take over the grassy area near the rock wall and spread lengthwise along the wall. I grew baby bear pumpkins in a 12" wide container this year (harvested three, i killed the plant in a baking soda accident).

DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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wrote:

^_^ If you're not crazy about squash, I wouldn't waste the space. Those plants can become *very* large. Similarly, even with small fruit, melon vines can occupy a lot of space. I do sympathize with the desire to try many things just to see how/what they do. I liked to grow either unusual or expensive things in my garden plot -- different colored bell peppers, purple beans, celeriac (a complete failure), oriental veg. I grew onions one year and those were also dismal -- they take a lot of water and attention, and onions are cheap. Better to try shallots or garlic chives. Or leeks. For beans, be careful to note whether they're bush or pole (climbing) types. I built a very elaborate bean trellis, and then planted bush bean seeds. Uh oh. The small fresh beans were lovely, nonetheless.
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makes more sense--although it eliminates vines re-rooting.

some onion and garlic. I'll have to keep the higher water requirement in mind.

DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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The newspaper trick works really well on weeds but I'm concerned about those pesky 2' deep roots that some grasses put out. If you decide to use newspaper it needs to be 10-15 pages thick and covered with something ( mulch, humus, rocks) to keep the newspapers in place and damp. A couple of months should do it. You will have to dig over the plot anyway to add your "fixings", so you'll find those roots that didn't die off. As to the Hydrangea, suggest you carefully dig towards it. When you notice the rootlets of the plant in the soil, you've dug close enough. Hand pull any grass or weeds near the plant. Planting corn won't get you much in the way of produce. The plants take a lot of room to produce a small amount of ears ( 2-4 per plant). Suggest what was once called "intensive gardening". Plant a root veggie next to a leaf veggie and alternate the rows ( eg; radishes then lettuce, then carrots, then chard, beets then cukes, etc) It uses less space to grow the veggies. The veggies can be changed the next year to keep down pests and disease If you can access the plot from both sides, you won't need a walkway between rows, so that again saves valuable planting space.
--
Jayel
"DigitalVinyl" < snipped-for-privacy@internet.com> wrote in message
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wrote:

Pictures, Digital, of the new spot. We want to see Before and After.
There have been many posts here on the process of digging up/removing grass for either garden or new lawn prep. You might want to search Google groups.
A 4" slope (in the 5' or 12' direction?) doesn't sound like much, but might be a problem with newly dug dirt and amendments. Maybe a border of large stones or bricks could be employed. A nearby yard has been growing veg on a rather steep slope with stone terraces for years. I'll stop by and take a closer look to see if the stones are just set in the ground or cemented in some way.
I agree with other posters that a small corn plot is a waste of space. Not only is the yield small, but the yield bugs or birds don't get to is even smaller. And corn is *tall*. Didn't you try growing some already? (Of course, tomatoes are tall, too -- just not *that* tall.)
Weeding will, indeed, be an issue. Without constant attention and/or thorough mulching, weeds will steal water and nutrients from your plants. And they can't just be killed once. Eternal vigilance is the price of tomatoes!
Given your green thumb, I expect you'll be running your own fresh veg stand by next July. :-)
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http://members.aol.com/digitalvinyl66/PatioGarden.jpg
The area trailing off the right side of the photo is what i'm looking at. The grass closer to the camera needs to be kept clear for the drying rack and because there is a tree off to the right that shadows it considerably in spring and fall.

wall. I hadn't thought to measure how steep that is. I had problems with the bed I cultivated this year because the left side sloped just an inch or two lower. I saw runoff down to the left and more than half of the seeds to the left never came up. They either drowned or washed away.

leveling it out when I rework it...although I may have oversimplified that in my mind.

messed up the fertilzer and the tassels came out a month before the silks ever formed. Though I have to say that my corn variety was 6' where my tomatoes grew to 5 1/2'. And the tomatoes formed a wall of green that I could NOT see through. I would still like to grow corn successfully -- even if just once.

morning in the garden early on. Once the garden filled in it keep the weeds out naturally. However, I was self-employed/unemployed so time was not a problem. Once I go back to work that simply won't happen. I usually rush in the morning and work long hours. Except in deep summer, I get used to coming home in the dark.

and neighbors. I'll be satisfied if my planning and scheduling is better next time around. Also I'd like to succesfully germinate a few no shows from this year. DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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