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?
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
View at least the first one or two pictures in this Powerpoint presentation:
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,
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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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