Vegetable Gardens and Lawn

I am considering starting a vegetable garden (I am completely new to gardening). I was thinking of starting with a 10'x10' one. The patch I have selected gets the most sun but it is currently a lawn, so I need to know what I should do here?
Do I remove the lawn in the section in question and put new topsoil down (this seems like an expensive option)
Do I plough the lawn into the soil?
Or is there something else I should do?
Also I live in the North of England and summer is over, is there a preferred time of year to prepare the patch?
Thanks.
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Forget topsoil. If the lawn's healthy in that spot, you will be amazed at the quality of the soil underneath. Unless you steal the top 1 foot of someone else's established garden, there's no way you'll find topsoil like that.
View at least the first one or two pictures in this Powerpoint presentation: http://nesoil.com/properties/horizons / It shows how the soil exists in definite layers. It's best not to disturb the arrangement. If, in a perfect world, you suddenly had a vegetable garden that had been properly worked for several years, and you didn't compress the soil by walking all over it (stay on the foot paths), you'd find that you could drag a cultivating tool through it easily, and this would be the only work needed to fluff up the top few inches. Weeds would come out easily, too.
Because I'm crazy, I like to use a spade to cut the grass into manageable squares, slice under them with the spade, hold the square off the ground and whack the soil away from the roots. The idea is to save that nice soil. If you do the job a day or two after a good rain, you can slide a fork under the square and lift them, instead of the spade. You'll know you removed as much soil as possible when the square (which was killing your arm & back) is now just a light chunk of grass, which you can compost or discard.
Others here swear by a method involving thick layers of newspaper left on the area for a while (don't know how long) to kill the grass. The method might also involve laying clear plastic on top of the newspaper - someone else can fill you in on this. Clear shower curtain liners are perfect for this - they're more rugged than trash bags. The only reason I didn't use this method is that I wanted the grass gone in one weekend.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Good post. The technique you refer too is usually called 'lasagna gardening' and exists in several different forms. The layers can be as simmple as cardboard or 7-10 layers of newsprint (no waxed/plasticized/slick paper or cardboard) layed over the area and wetted down occasionally. Most sites recommend starting in the fall to prepare for the spring. If you plan to wait til spring, think about the following and adapt as you want; 1. cut the sod as described BUT flip it over and cover with a few layers of newspring and a little soil or compost.
2. spray the lawn with Roundup or msma .
3. put down some compost/kitchen scraps for the fall, then cover with newspringt or cardboad and put topsoil on top.
4. and edging can be put down before or after. It will help in keeping gras from invading.
Also, it can sometimes be better to layout vegetable gardens think about sun direction, plant spacing requirements and footpaths, etc.
In addition to searching the net. perhaps someoen can recommend a good book or 2 .
Here is a link to a daylily bed I am experimenting with - though I will be planting next week - you can see what I did at least.
http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/651950 /
Carl
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No - the OP said "vegetable garden". Roundup is not safe in areas where edibles will be grown.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Didn't know that - I thought it was denatured by soil contact.
thanx
Carl
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Doesn't matter. None of these products can be properly tested for such use.
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On Sun, 24 Sep 2006 19:40:43 GMT, "Joseph Byrns"

I've done this several ways. The easy way is to cover the grass with something that kills it. Newspaper or cardboard works well though it must be covered with something else like grass clippings to keep it from blowing away. This is then tilled in after it decomposes. This might not happen over the winter though, cold weather inhibits the breakdown. You might cover the grass with black plastic. I've done this in the summer, but it might work over the winter. The plastic might help keep the soil dry so you can till in the spring. The hard way is to cut the turf off and either dig down and bury it a foot or more under the surface or compost it. In any case, grass is the worst weed in the garden and you'd best get rid of it. If you only plant big plants as transplants you can mulch with newspaper and then cut holes where the plants go but with seeds the grass has to be gone in the first place.
As for Roundup, most food you get at the store has been grown on ground that a herbicide like that has been used on. It's your preference if you want to deal with it like that.
As for notill, that works if you've got great soil. You might only have an inch or two of topsoil, you'll have to look. If not you need to tilll stuff into it to make it better.
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Translation: Other people do stupid things, so you should, too.
Yep.
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Thanks everyone for the very usefull advice. I'll look at the links provided and decide which way to go.
JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

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Joseph, I am going to suggest 2 ways. Which one may be more useful, if at all, depends on what your soil is like and how quickly you want to get underway.
If you have a deep layer of topsoil (maybe 200-300mm or more), and the grass grows well, and you want to start immediately then dig spits of sod up and turn them upside down so the grass faces downward. You can break the sod up a little with a spade until it is loosish. The grass root will still be in the sod and this will take a little time to break down as the grass dies off. As it does the soil will loosen up. Much of the grass will die off as it is upside down, all of it won't. You will need to kill off the remainder the the grass either by chemical spray if you must (a glyphosate weed killer is safest although I personally wouldn't use a weed killer around my vege patch) or some form of mulch such as straw, hay, shredded leaves, mature compost, dried grass clippings that will block out the sun light and kill the residual grass. When you plant in to this, fairly rough, garden you would be best to use already started plants as seed germination may be haphazard and the grass may compete. When any crops are at a 1/2 decent height mulch around them. Veges planted from a tuber like potatos and garlic can go straight in. The mulch will break down and add organic matter top your soil which will also help break it up.
The other alternative mentioned is some form of raised or lazanga garden. You can either make this with ready to go ingrediants if you want to plant out immediately or you can slowly build it up and let things break down via nature for planting in your spring. This is good if your soil is shit.
If the former case you will need things already composted. Cardboard goes down first or you can use several sheets of newspaper, this kills off the grass. Mature animal poop or compost or leaves goes in. You can layer it down or simply scatter it well together. There is no one set way. Anyone who tells you it has to be a certain process is lying. Essential requirement however is that the organic material is composted or well rotted. If you can lay your hands on some free well rotted horse/sheep/cow/chicken poop or some nice mature backyard compost (check the maker has not added any chemicals or cat/dog poop in) and some nicely rotted leaves or some old pasture hay or straw or some matured mauchroom compost you are away laughing. Mix it all together and plant away. Just ensure the top 4-6 inchs is nice fine compost or top soil or something similar. You can plant (even seeds I reckon) straight in to that. It does not matter really how high you make the garden. I have put in a number of raised gardens using wooden sleepers 300mm to 400mm high.
If you have time to let things rot down over autumn and winter then simply toss it all in and walk away for a season. Grass clippings, household food scraps, leaves, animal poops, hay or straw, partly composed compost, used coffee grounds, scrap fruit and veges from the local fruiter whatever whatever. If it is free and not tainted by chemicals take it. Some will tell you to use peat moss or lime, that costs money. You can likely all ingredients you need free as waste product. You not only divert waste from a landfill but you save your hard earned money for things like seedlings and beer. Coffee grounds from local cafes, fruit/vege scraps from fruit shops, grass either your own or a neighbours (just make sure they don't spray the shit out of their lawn. If so, check what with), leaves from around the neighbourhood, poop from stables or farms or hen houses, straw or hay from a local farm, 1/2 rotten compost from a neighbour who makes it but don't use it etc. It will break down over time mind and likely be 1/2 as high as the raw ingredients. DONT use bark chips. They take an age to break down.
Thus url shows the actual building process. You don't need to make your as high as this. They use lime and peat moss, I don't as it costs money. They layer it, I just bunged things in the garden and mixed it all up with a garden fork and left it over winter. I have planted in to my 'chuck and leave' raised gardens this spring and things are doing fine. http://www.fbga.net/Lasagna%20gardening%202004.htm http://www.ourgardengang.com/lasagna_gardening.htm
It is recommended by many I have spoken to that you make several gardens, not one big one. Each garden should only be as wide as you can easily access from either side without stepping on to the garden itself. Have pathways either side of the garden. 1 to 1.5 metre wide gardens do me ok. I can service them either side without stepping on them and compacting the soil.
good luck, happy growing.
rob
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Joseph Byrns wrote:

You have to decide if you want a raised bed or not. Since you live in a rainy place, probably a raised bed has only pluses for you. With a raised bed, eliminating the grass is as simple as laying down cardboard. You do need to dig the grass around the perimeter of the bed, and establish a mowing strip (a strip around the bed where nothing grows and which will allow you to mow the grass). If you don't do that, grass will creep into the beds, and grass is the worst weed you can have in a vegeetable garden. Instructions for no till/organic:
0) if you have moles or voles, lay down chicken wire on the selected spot. This will save you many a crisis 1) Lay down cardboard or multiple layers of newspapers on top of the chicken wire and lawn, making sure it overlaps completely 2) lay down cinder blocks or wood beams to define the perimeter of the garden. Make sure that the cardboard is under the cinder blocks 3) dig up the grass all around the bed, one foot width, don't throw it in the bed or it may resprout 4) lay down a one foot strip of plastic ( cut up garbage bag is fine) at the bottom and fill with gravel or crushed limestone. do not fill with mulch or over time grass will come in. make sure the plasitc is under the cinder blocks 5) fill the bed with manure and dead leaves (start saving dead leaves now), to about one foot height (it will come down to about two to three inches. You will have to add more as the years go by). you have to do this before winter to begin breakdown. If you use wood chips, they will render your garden too acidic for the first few years (you can still plant potatoes and a number of other acid-tolerant veggies), though on the long run they provide the same neutral, quality soil that regular compost does. Wood chips are free of weed seeds, leaves almost seed free, manure varies. topsoil has 75 years of seeds in it 6) in spring plant only transplants, as the soil is still coarse for seeds. Starting the year after you can plant from seed

fine lawn or not, it is best to start with a good manuring. And the time to do it is in the next two months.

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