Derelict garden

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I moved to a new home in Feb this year and the garden is completely overgrown with weeds! The garden apparently has not been tended for approx 3 years and having watched the garden over the spring and summer there doesn't appear to be any plants worth saving except an alstromeria!! Can anybody advise on how I should tackle the seemingly daunting task of turning this derelict piece of land into a family garden? Should I just resort to using a strong weedkiller although I understand that I might not be able to then plant for some months?
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No weed killer, especially if you have any thoughts of planting edibles in there.
Tackle it a few feet at a time, on your knees, with some good hand tools. You could also cover some areas with clear plastic, a week or two ahead of the grunt labor.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Go pick up a pitch fork to loosen the soil in large patches, will make pulling MUCH easier..
I never thought I'd need a pitch fork until I moved recently. Picked one up just to relocate our day lily collection but have found it a priceless tool for redoing our neglected beds and yard.
Start pitchin' in a straight line working from the end of the bed, backwards. It'll save some of that back breaking work, a few feet at a time, on your knees.
How much space do you have to clean up anyway?
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Yep. It's a miracle tool.
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On 10/22/07 5:27 PM, in article JA8Ti.19490$ snipped-for-privacy@news02.roc.ny,

I think it is the one tool I turn to time after time.
A pair placed back to back in clump of daylilies and levered apart with break up even the most over grown clump. C
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I think a pitch fork is for tossing hay. You want a garden fork .
Picky picky picky.
Bill who owns about five one for dancing about the garden aka Jervon's.
Look for Smith and Hawken or Bulldog tools.
http://www.google.com/search?q=smith%20hawken%20fork
--

S Jersey USA Zone 5 Shade

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Twice in the past year, friends have tried to order tools from S&H and they've been told they were out of stock. Four years ago, when I needed to order a spade & fork, the entire tool section of the web site was gone. I called the company and was told "We're not carrying tools at this time". What??? The person sounded like a moron, so I decided to call one of their stores in a ritzy neighborhood - Manhasset, Long Island. The guy on the phone said he had plenty of the tools I wanted. He charged me for UPS ground shipping, but they arrived the next day, in boxes he'd built himself.
I love the tools, but since that company lost its mind and went into the stupid overpriced garden accessory business, they can be challenging to work with.
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I hear you and agree. I sort of anticipated the loss of access to good hand tools and bought many. Life long investment plus. Same thing happened with a firm that made Chi Pants and another that dealt with Japanese bedding. A major loss only if you know what was available. Good Incense still around.
Bill Now off to playing Swedish Chef.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoXGHw4hK60

--

S Jersey USA Zone 5 Shade

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Still worth fighting with them to get the tools, though, in case any newbies are reading this. They're better, somehow. Balance, or something.
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Digging fork, spading, fork, potato fork. I love mine, I bought it from Johnny's. Slightly pricey but it comes with a lifetime guarantee. http://www.johnnyseeds.com/catalog/product.aspx?scommand=search&search=fork&item 33
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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expounded:

http://www.johnnyseeds.com/catalog/product.aspx?scommand=search&search=fork&item 33
The fork is also excellent for menacing recalcitrant dog walkers (criminals) who are about to walk away from your lawn with picking up the gift their dogs leave. Skip the "please" stage, hold fork the right way, and tell the dog criminal what to do. They'll pick up the dog gift with their bare hands and leave quickly.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

[....]
first they took the guns. then they took the knives. next they'll take the forks.
<g>
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I donate to the NFA. Even Charlton Heston wasn't man enough to be a member.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

there's a nasty rumor going around. seems at the last NFA banquet dinner the caterer substituted sporks in the place of forks.
there's no end to some peoples sense of humor.
<g>
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Works on speeding cars, too.
Who's that madwoman standing at the side of the road ready to spear my windshield with that pitchfork??!?
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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wrote:

At the risk of being labeled as an agent of Monsanto I will give you some advice should you choose some chemical solutions to your problem. Pay no mind to the blasts that will be directed my way, it has happened before and it will happen again. Oh, I am not an agent of Monsanto or any other company. I am just a guy who works a mini-farm all by himself and am interested in any labor saving method since I am the only source of labor.
You have not specified what kind of garden you seek, vegetable, flower or both.
In either case you can safely use pesticides to get your situation under control but do not go out and buy "weed killer". First learn how herbicides work. You will need to know what crops you wish to grow and specifically what weeds you are battling. This is not easy, but in the long run can save you some back breaking work.
Once you know what weeds you are dealing with and what their growth habit is you will know the characteristics of herbicide that you need. Then identify the product that you need and READ THE LABEL. If it is labeled for use on your weeds and your crop then you can apply it AS DIRECTED ON THE LABEL.
Buying "weed killer" and spraying it about willy, nilly is wasteful, harmful, illegal and ineffective. Learning what products are appropriate to your situation and how they must be applied can save you lots of work.
If you follow this advise you will not be "poisoning" the land or any other such nonsense. You will be saving yourself a lot of work and frustration. That land is likely to be loaded with an abundance of weed seeds that will germinate despite all of your yanking and mulching efforts.
JMHO
John
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John, what are your views on lasagna gardening where the ground is covered with newspaper or cardboard to prevent germination of unwanted plants, and then spread with amendments and mulched? This is said to encourage micro-organisms and improve the soil.
The knock on faming with chemicals is that it kills soil fertility, pollutes the environment, and, on an industrial scale, leads to a loss of top soil. Then there is the contention of phyto-nutrients being depleted from foods by modern farming methods.
Finally, what would you recommend to this potential gardener as a plan to develop his garden plot. I realize that flower beds and hedges are different from vegetable gardens but would you make any recommendations about either.
I hope I'm not badgering. These are academic questions that I wish to know the answers to. (Shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition:-)
Best regards,
--
FB - FFF

Billy

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wrote:

I think that is a splendid technique if it is appropriate to your situation. If you can keep the area adequately mulched and still get the plants that you want to grow then go to it.

Yes, the farmer should be cautious when using chemical pesticides. All of the farmers that I know are very cautious. Many of them are strictly organic due mostly to the marketing advantages.
Since I am the only laborer on my mini-farm, mulch techniques such as we discussed above are not effective in some of my areas. However, I just planted my garlic crop which is now nestled under four inches of straw. The mulch will be the primary weed control but not the only one as some persistant ones will pop through. I will yank what I can but may be forced to use a herbicide. If so, I will do it but cautiously.
In my opinion, too many people assume that farmers who use chemical methods are 'poisoning the earth'. My experience is very different from that.

It depends upon your situation. I recommend Integrated Pest Management techniques, which boils down to using the methods that are appropriate to your situation and does not preclude anything. My version of IPM is to use the least invasive method that will work for me to deal with any problem. If I can do it organically, that will be my first choice. If not, then I move into more aggressive techniques but do so being concious of what I am doing.

No problem at all. These groups are a great forum for learning until the screaming starts.
John
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To this, I'll add that it helps to watch closely and see if an insect attack is really damaging a certain vegetable that much before taking action. Often, it doesn't matter much and the problem passes. Example: In a normal October here (Rochester), the cold would've stopped whatever eats the leaves on my collard greens. This year, there was little or no bug damage until 3 weeks ago. From a distance, it looks pretty bad, but it turns out they're only eating the older outer leaves which looked ratty anyway due to age. Two days ago, I still harvested enough to freeze enough to last until next spring. So, I'm not going to fret over it. Same with the green beans back in August. Just when the beans began to form, something attacked the leaves. I still got a huge harvest.
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And in "Omnivore's Dilemma", Michael Pollan made the observation that insects went after the leaves of plants when artificial fertilizers were used because that is where the nitrogen was stored. Additionally, chem ferts such as ammonium sulfate are salts and kill off soil micro-organisms that could slowly feed plants without a big surge of nitrogen. And lastly, there is a group of nutrients called phyto-nutrients that seem to be important to our health and are deficient in artificially fed plants.
Pays yo' money and take yo' chances.
--
FB - FFF

Billy

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