Home   |   About Us   |   GROW: The Book   |   Blog   |   Join Us   |   Shop   |   Forum Rules

New garden preparation. — The Grow Network Community
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste most of it.

-Seneca

New garden preparation.

mkay5334mkay5334 Posts: 3
We also have a lot of oak leaves on our property and use them for compost in our garden. I gather them at the end of each fall and place them in our compost bays for them to decompose through the winter. The leaves break down fairly quickly and make for good compost (note: we also mix in other organic materials - food scraps, horse manure, bedding from the chickens - as these are our primary composting piles). I anticipate being able to spread the compost in our garden in the coming week. We've done this in the past and the soil in our garden beds is quite healthy. The key is to make certain that the leaves have broken down (or are at least well into that process). If you're able, I'd recommend moving them into a compost area or a sunny area to help further the composting process before adding them into the garden area.

Comments

  • griesjoegriesjoe Posts: 5
    edited March 2018
    I agree with Jon, they make a great compost know as leaf mold.  The first thing I would do is run over them with a mower before I added anything to them.  This produces a more surface area for bacteria to attack, then keep the pile moist.  This will aid in the break down.  Oak leaves run to the more acidic side if my memory is correct but composting seems to be a great equalizer.   Then after they have composted add a way either work in to the first few inches of the garden soil our us a mulch.

     

    John if you are using animal manure ensure that it does not have herbicide in it some of that stuff does not break down either through the animal or compost.  Just a heads up.
  • Jon ParksJon Parks Posts: 1
    edited March 2018
    Agreed @griesjoe. The horse manure is very clean as we have intimate knowledge of the inputs for these horses! :)

    On the original topic-- I've found that the acidity levels do subside through the composting process. However, for us that could be due to the other organic matter that we're adding into it and letting our chickens scratch and peck all through it. If the original pile of leaves has been sitting there simply breaking down, going over them with a mower is good practical advice as it will make the process of mixing it into your garden a bit easier. Best wishes!
  • Cami J.S.Cami J.S. Posts: 4
    edited May 2018
    Hi everyone,  I am planning an organic culinary and herb garden in my backyard. We recently converted about a year or so ago to eating all organic but I can't find some items locally so I want to start a garden in my backyard. I have a really good size yard and its not being utilized at all.  We pay a service to cut the grass and that's it. The question is How do I get rid of my grass without using chemicals? I hate chemicals. But we have lots of grass and weeds (no medicinal or beneficial ones so far). Most research so far says to use cardboard sheets. I have 5 bags of organic soil over 1 small location right now to kill the grass, but thinking that's not the best option. Its in full sun. Any suggestions? I grew up with flower gardens but never a culinary one so I am a newbie at this.
  • H_DH_D Posts: 390 ✭✭✭
    edited May 2018
    cardboard sheets or large black tarps should do the trick, will take a few weeks but will do the job sans chemicals

    Heather
  • Cami J.S.Cami J.S. Posts: 4
    edited May 2018
    Thanks Heather I will do that!
  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 671 admin
    edited June 2018
    Cami, you might want to check out a Homesteading Basics video that Marjory did about this and the accompanying article. The theme is "Gardening With a Bad Back," but it's essentially about solarizing, which is the technique where you lay down black or clear plastic and let the sun bake the area to kill grass and etc.

    Now would be a good time to do it, as you will probably need to leave it down for the entire summer (and maybe longer) depending on your climate. My guess is that the area will be ready for some garden love next spring if you go this route.

    You can learn more about this method (and watch how Marjory does it in the video) here: https://thegrownetwork.com/gardening-bad-back/

    Hope this helps! :)
  • Cami J.S.Cami J.S. Posts: 4
    edited June 2018
    Thanks, it helps a lot. I don't have rocks but I have old stumps and we don't have alot if wind most days so this should work.
  • Laura Ann KrauseLaura Ann Krause Posts: 8 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2018
    I'm wondering how to prepare my soil now (in Minnesota) to give it the best organic stuff I can to replenish it for spring. Here's my story...

    I took my first stab at a modest, mostly-vegetable garden this spring/summer in a small (5' x 8') raised bed. The site originally had juniper bushes gone wild and 4 other small bushes (I forget what--I'm in a townhouse) with landscaping rock. So I dug out all of the bushes, removed the rock, built my bed frame, and filled it with organic soil, I'm not sure exactly how many inches deep (between 8-12). The soil here is sandy, so that's what is underneath. I put on a layer of somewhat composted leaves and grass clippings after planting transplants and after seedlings from direct sowing emerged. Lettuce, radishes, cucs, carrots, liatris around the edges to attract pollinators, and 2 sunflowers that totally took over (and were not in the original plan--my daughter's preschool take-home project :-D)

    I've heard (long after planting) that sunflowers can really suck the life out of soil. I know that anything I planted later in the season was NOT happy, but may have been bad timing on my part, too. Any suggestions for organic amendments will be much appreciated. I think I can get more free leaves and grass clippings from my neighbor who does not use chemicals on his lawn. But how thick does that cover need to be? Otherwise I can collect leaves from the wooded easement area between our yards. I'd rather not have to buy much! I also have some natural (not colored) cypress wood chips left over. I put chips down in between rows.
  • CherlynnCherlynn Posts: 167 ✭✭✭
    edited September 2018
    I use whatever I have on hand.  I grew oats this year so have a little oat stocks along with our food waste and I have chicken manure that has been rotting away in our chicken coop since we got rid of the chickens a couple years ago.  Lots and lots of leaves if I want to go to the woods and collect them.  My husband runs over them with his mower deck and bags it up as he does so and then I bag everything up and let it all sit over winter.  Can't wait until our next growing season!  Don't forget to get your soil testing done!  Nothing like pouring what you have on hand only to find out you got way to much of something.  I have to be very careful adding manure in.   In my soil a little goes a long way.  My extension service test my compost each spring so I really know what I'm adding in and can adjust it if I need to.
  • Laura Ann KrauseLaura Ann Krause Posts: 8 ✭✭✭
    edited September 2018
    Thanks, Cherlynn!

    No manure available here, and I wouldn't dare in our townhouse association :-P, but I did make progress...

    A friend of mine gave me several bags of leaves last week, yay! Yesterday I pulled out bulbs that I don't want in my garden box next year, threw in soil from many pots, worked the soil a bit, then emptied a bag of leaves on top, generously watered it, and put some chicken wire on top to help stop the leaves from blowing away; it's still fall after all ;-) It's been unseasonably warm here, so I thought I'd use this to my advantage and get the decomposition process moving along before the temp drops significantly in the next couple of days.

    I'll check our extension office for soil testing. Thank you again :-)
  • Laura Ann KrauseLaura Ann Krause Posts: 8 ✭✭✭
    edited September 2018
    Hi, Merin.

    Any suggestions for converting grass to garden now that it's fall (in Minnesota)? Tarp isn't going to do much now as far as killing the grass goes. Is it worth borrowing a rototiller now, so the soil is broken up, then dump leaves and such on top of it to add organic matter to work their magic for the remainder of the fall and winter? Thanks in advance, Merin or anyone :-)
  • Marc ThomaMarc Thoma Posts: 78 ✭✭
    edited September 2018
    Leaves are great! I collect them in one of my compost bins. Wish I would have kept more last year, but I only have so many leaves on my property - will have to "steal" some from the neighbours.

    I still think it should be a homeowner's responsibility to pile up leaves in their yard and not expect the city to pick them up. The amount of diesel that is used in these vacuum trucks is ridiculous and is contributing to the bad air in our neighbourhoods. When will we finally wake up and realize that what we are doing is not sustainable?
  • karenkaren Posts: 81 ✭✭
    edited September 2018
    Hi. this is copied from marjorie's blog today on growing sweet potatoes: "Sweet potato plants make great clay breakers. Prepare a few inches of soil to start plants. Then let the sweet potatoes grow until they die.

    When they die, leave the roots in the ground to decompose in place. This creates habitat for soil life and helps break up compacted clay soils."
    you dont need a clay soil to do this. also the best, but not the fastest way to suppress grass and weeds is a double layer of cardboard, then start piling green and brown stuff in separate layers, watering each layer really well. the cardboard eventually decomposes - probably over winter - but once you start planting, the weeds that MAY come up are not really a problem anymore. also, my fave way of gardening is in raised beds if it is just you and your family. the sweet potato idea is a great one for raised beds that will sit over winter, and can be planted as soon as your box is full. Keeping one box just for this purpose may be a good idea? I think i will do this.
    blessings
  • Laura Ann KrauseLaura Ann Krause Posts: 8 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2018
    I totally agree, Marc! I was watching literally with mouth open, as my kids and I witnessed the massive leaf pick-up process for our townhouse community. I explained to them how crazy it is to maintain a massive swathe of green grass like this, how unproductive it is (not growing anything edible or useful for anyone), and what a waste of fuel it is to chase after and remove all of the leaves.

    We moved into our townhouse 5 years ago, when we were in a very different situation--still residing overseas and only vacationing "back home" here. It's been 2.5 years now since we resettled here, and the whole family has evolved in our collective mindset. We now are moving toward moving to a homestead. In the meantime, I am learning all I can while we are still here in a suburban townhouse. My garden box will be removed in the spring, due to landscaping changes coming to our association then, but when one door closes, another opens: I already prepared a "lasagna garden" plot in my friend's yard about a month ago, and I am gearing up for indoor gardening this winter and then outdoor container gardening this spring and beyond at my place :-)
  • Laura Ann KrauseLaura Ann Krause Posts: 8 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2018
    So interesting about the sweet potatoes, kquinnhobbs. Thank you for sharing that. Too bad I only got back to this forum now, long after putting down my layers about a month ago. I did just as you said with the layers, following a diagram and advice in the book Gaia's Garden. I'm SOOOO interested to see how much (or little?) the cardboard, newspapers, leaves, and straw break down over a Minnesota winter! I'm assuming I'll do mostly vegetable transplants in that space.
  • Laura Ann KrauseLaura Ann Krause Posts: 8 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2018
    Thanks for those tips, Lisa K!

    I actually have been participating in community composting--dropping off our blue-bagged compost at city hall--since 2.5 years ago, before I got into gardening here. So our family of five has no shortage of compost material; I just want the end product ASAP!

    So...my wintertime project is to start a wormery, and keep the old cooler in our garage or basement. I'm really excited about this next step. I'm just waiting to get an old cooler from my sister this weekend. This will put her broken cooler to continued good use, reduce our car trips to city hall, AND give me worm castings inshaaAllah (="God willing")!

    I also have some black bags of this fall's leaves sitting out on our deck. I hear that they take a couple of years (?) to break down to leaf mould, so I don't know that they'll be much help this spring, but we'll see. Exciting stuff, even in the "dead" of winter!
  • Laura Ann KrauseLaura Ann Krause Posts: 8 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2018
    That's great, Lisa K!

    I just stopped by a local brew supply store today to ask some food-fermenting and kombucha-related questions, and I discovered by walking in there that they sell 15-pound bags of worm castings, which is something I've bought from Amazon before. Now I can support my local economy instead! And regarding my wormery endeavors, I plan to hit our local bait shop with some questions and, hopefully, another local purchase.
Sign In or Register to comment.