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Chambers

Settler
Jan 1, 2010
846
6
Darlington
Just coming back after a long time away.

Amid all of this chaos that is going on I've taken the opportunity to tidy up the garden a bit. This is going to involve putting in a small veg plot; potatoes, carrots, parsnip and onions. Not enough to live on but enough to keep me busy.

I'm going to start on this over the next few days, it's going to be where there is existing grass, I was just wondering if anyone had any hints and tips.

I'll try to keep it up to date how this progresses
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,128
4,477
Mid Wales
I'm just reworking a veg patch that's been left wild and overgrown for five years; not an easy job.

In the past I have started veg patches where there was lawn, rough grass, and the one I'm working now was a grazing field. The difficult bit is keeping the best soil whilst trying to remove the grass and roots - remember it's the top six inches that holds the majority of nutrients in virgin soil.

The way my dad taught me to do it was double dig so you take out two spades depth in a trench (putting the soil over to the other end of your garden ready for the last step) then on the next row you turn the top spade's depth over into the bottom of the previous trench (so grass down) and the next spade's depth on top of that. When you reach the end you put the soil you took out of the first trench in.

There are two things wrong with this method (that my father still swore by to his dying day):
1) it's bl**dy hard work
2) it puts all the infertile and poor soil on the top where all your seeds are going to go.

Over many years, and by adding manure etc. every time you turn it over, you end up with a garden that has 18" of good fertile soil - but we don't have that long.

So, my advice for what it's worth (and remember, you'll get as many different answers as gardeners you ask) is to take off as little as possible with the grass, turn over no more than one spades depth adding any 'improver' you've got (composted waste, leaves etc) and break it up as you go. Yes, you'll get grass growing back and you'll have to keep on top of that but you won't have lost all that good soil. If you stack the removed turfs upside down they will eventually rot down and you can add them back to the garden (it takes years).

Apologies if you already know all this :)

Oh, one last thing, one of the best sources of good seed that germinate reliably is Wilko's own brand - they're also the cheapest :)
 

Woody girl

Full Member
Mar 31, 2018
3,251
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Exmoor
One problem with digging up a bit of grass lawn is compaction.
I have made 6 inch high raised beds set into my grass and used a layer of cardboard or newspapers on the bottom to suppress the grass. Fill with compost and soil conditioner. But then I hate digging and wanted an easier solution to hard clay.
Still, digging is great exercise, just take it
Realy slow and easy at first. You don't want to do your back in right now. !
 

oldtimer

Full Member
Sep 27, 2005
2,652
1,189
79
Oxfordshire and Pyrenees-Orientales, France
British Red of this parish is the man to go to. Consult his blog or YouTube channel.

i did exactly as Broc advises about seven years ago. I now have good deed here ready for sowing this year. Any methods that save effort are what I go for. I wish I'd known of Woodygirl's method earlier.
 
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Chambers

Settler
Jan 1, 2010
846
6
Darlington
Thanks!
The flower bed which is already next to the spot I'm going to use is already raised so I'm going to do the same with the veg plot. My thoughts were to take off the top layer of grass, mess it up a bit with a fork then lots of manure (horse) and compost
 
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Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
36,704
2,622
S. Lanarkshire
Quickest way to kill off grass is to starve it of light.

I was an archaeologist; de-turfing is often the hardest bit of the whole dig :sigh: and Broch's right, that top of the soil is the active nutrient rich bit of it.
Double digging works, but it takes years and it takes feeding and it really is blooming hard work.

So, personally, if it were me. I'd mark out my plot, dig it over only enough to break it up to get the soil opened up, and then cover the whole blooming patch with something that will totally kill off the grass and weed's chances of coming back up. Old carpet, if it's wool, works, otherwise you've got a mess of those plastic backing strands to deal with. Plastic sheeting doesn't always exclude enough light.
Smothering the whole bed in woodchips seems like a good idea, but that wood takes time to rot down and it slows down any other growth while it's doing it.
Hay is suprisingly good, if messy, but best of all is the heavy weight fabric meant to be used under gravel or stone chips for paths. You can simply cut through it exactly where you want to plant and keep the rest of the grass and weeds covered up and excluded from the light. It lets water through too, albeit slowly, but it helps warm the soil as well and it does trap enough moisture underneath that seedlings can get a good start.
Some weeds will chance it where you've cut planting holes (just cut a + shape to put a plant in) but they're easily weeded out until the plants you want are big enough to smother them.

Just read your last post, and if you're making a raised bed then what you're planning sounds good, but do you have that much extra compost to raise the level ?

Lazy beds are very productive, you just take layers of topsoil and pile them up with manure or fresh cut greenery or seaweed in between.

Best of luck with it :) Good time to start this :D

M
 

Chambers

Settler
Jan 1, 2010
846
6
Darlington
Thanks Toddy. I know when I did the flower bed it used more than I expected, thankfully I was digging out the patio. I'll be able to pinch soil from the in laws as they have a couple of horses, hence the ready supply of manure! Wish me luck
 
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Woody girl

Full Member
Mar 31, 2018
3,251
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Exmoor
Tip for growing beans.
Dig a trench and line with newspapers .
Put in all your veg scraps and water well. Allow to rot down a fair bit.
Then add some soil to planting depth. Water well plant the beans you've brought on in pots and add a cane trellis or wigwam if you short on space(dig a circular trench).
Beans are protein rich and easy to grow. I'm doing broad beans and runners plus some smaller beans in pots .
Leave a few pods to grow on and go dry and brown and you have seed for next year as long as you don't use f1 varieties.
Once I've got enough for the freezer apart from picking a few for fresh use I let them grow on and keep a few back for seed, The rest are dried and stored used in soups and stews.
 
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Chambers

Settler
Jan 1, 2010
846
6
Darlington
The potatoes are in.
I've also got an assortment of carrots turnip, onions and parsnips to go in among another few.

I simply turned the soil and removed a lot of the grass then gave it a healthy coating of decomposed horse manure followed by compost.
Hopefully it works
 

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