feelings on making a garden
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    feelings on making a garden

    I would like to build a new traditional garden to grow larger crops (pumpkins, squash, cabbage). I took an area 30 x 20 and ran a plow through it. Then I came back later and rototilled it, added leaves and manure in last fall and mixed it together. The soil is fair at best, lots of rocks. I have run my landscape rake through it and removed as many rocks as possible but there are still so many baseball size. It seems endless.

    Last week I invited a friend over who runs an excavating business. He has done a lot of work for me and has equipment to clean it out. He told me it's not worth the time and money. He suggested I remove the top 8-12 inches and stock pile for future fill projects(which I have). Then order two truck loads (25 yards, $390 a load))of garden soil mix. He told me it would cost less and the soil would be great.

    My question: Since I will have scrapped the area clean, should I install a commercial grade fabric on top of the base before I fill with the new garden soil? The base soil under the garden is a mix of sand and rocks. It drains well, sometimes too well.

    Thanks for your feed back.

    Matt
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    I think it would be a good idea to lay down the fabric. But then I got to thinking about your crops. If there are any crops that send out good sturdy roots, they could have a problem with the fabric. On the other hand the fabric would help in weed control. It has its advantages as well as disadvantages.

    I would probably use the area for the pumpkins & other crops that can handle growth in a rocky area. For finer seed crops like carrots, lettuce, beans, etc. that need a fine soil bed, I would build raised garden beds & fill them with the soil mix your friend has suggested. If you have never done raised beds or "square foot gardening" you will be surprised how easy the maintenance is & the really good high yield you can get. I've been veggie gardening since I was sixteen years old. Not going to tell you how old I am now, but I miss my garden. Moved into a new home & I don't have the time right now. All I was able to manage this past season was 6 tomato plants, 6 green pepper & four eggplant. What a bummer, but better than nothing. Good luck with whatever you do.

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    If you've removed the top 8-12" I wouldn't bother with any landscape/weedblock fabric. That stuff is intended to be on the surface and then covered with an inch or two of mulch. Any weeds you get are going to be growing over the top of it. I can't think of any advantage you'd get from having the fabric under there.

    Of course, we'll need some pics to weigh in on this properly!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maddog View Post
    I think it would be a good idea to lay down the fabric. But then I got to thinking about your crops. If there are any crops that send out good sturdy roots, they could have a problem with the fabric. On the other hand the fabric would help in weed control. It has its advantages as well as disadvantages.

    I would probably use the area for the pumpkins & other crops that can handle growth in a rocky area. For finer seed crops like carrots, lettuce, beans, etc. that need a fine soil bed, I would build raised garden beds & fill them with the soil mix your friend has suggested. If you have never done raised beds or "square foot gardening" you will be surprised how easy the maintenance is & the really good high yield you can get. I've been veggie gardening since I was sixteen years old. Not going to tell you how old I am now, but I miss my garden. Moved into a new home & I don't have the time right now. All I was able to manage this past season was 6 tomato plants, 6 green pepper & four eggplant. What a bummer, but better than nothing. Good luck with whatever you do.
    I have a couple of raised bed already and really like them for smaller crops. My original plan was pumpkins. the kids can carve them and I can cook the seeds. My sister gave me the Square Foot Gardening book, what a great help and like you said, you can get a lot out of a small space. My crops were poor this year due to weather, lack of attention and rabbits that got in and made a nest. Next year I will have to build a better fence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    If you've removed the top 8-12" I wouldn't bother with any landscape/weedblock fabric. That stuff is intended to be on the surface and then covered with an inch or two of mulch. Any weeds you get are going to be growing over the top of it. I can't think of any advantage you'd get from having the fabric under there.

    Of course, we'll need some pics to weigh in on this properly!
    I will post some pics. Last time I tilled I chained the back door up so all the rocks would spit out. I figured I could offer my kids some $$ for each pail full thee picked. Now that it has rained a few times it looks more like a gravel field.

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    matt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardware man View Post
    I will post some pics. Last time I tilled I chained the back door up so all the rocks would spit out. I figured I could offer my kids some $$ for each pail full thee picked. Now that it has rained a few times it looks more like a gravel field.

    Thanks
    matt


    I dug up a small area in my yard earlier this summer and did much as your friend has suggested you do. If I had spare time I shoveled the dirt I had dug out and ran it through a screen. The dirt itself got used in 4 new raised garden beds and the rocks got used to created a dry stream bed that channels runoff from my driveway and also to completely cover a slope on one side of the stream bed to prevent erosion. Previously, I had put fresh mulch on the slope every year but now I'll never have to bother with that again.

    I still have more to go but the additional rock, with some landscape fabric underneath, will get put down where I park my camper. Get a little creative and those rocks can come in handy!
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    I wouldn't waste time or money on the fabric. It's not designed for the purpose you intend it for. The weeds are still going to get in there from seeds that float around in the air as well as the new dirt you dump in there. If you want to avoid weeds, after you dump in the new soil cover it with black plastic for a month or two and the heat from the sun hitting the black plastic will cook those weed seeds to death.

    As far as soil, I would find a farmer or a dirt guy somewhere who can get you several yards of old cow manure. Your garden will thrive with that stuff. After a while that cow manure turns into very rich black dirt. That's what I use. Your friend I believe has a good idea. Scrape off the top 12+ inches and fill it with better soil. It will make a world of difference. I don't have a rock problem in my garden, but my soil is very sandy and as a result lacks nutrients and I have to water it more often. The cow manure dirt I added has turned my garden into a gold mine. I probably have 6" on top of mine and will add more next year.

    You may want to look in to composting. It's a great way to to add nutrients annually to your soil to keep your garden producing well every year.
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    I second the composting!! Almost nothing from my kitchen goes into the garbage, but it goes into the compost pile. I keep 2 piles going, so that one is ready each early Spring to be added to the garden. That compost is like adding gold to the soil! Conditions the soil and makes it better, and increases production, no matter what size garden! And, making your own, from what some would be throwing in the trash, makes it a free win!!
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    I have raised beds, love em I too have more rocks than anyone should be allowed to have so native soil gardening is out of the question. This year I wanted more space so I tried no-till,,,, yes no till and I didn't break out any ground breaking tools, no plows, no tillers, nothing. I just took a tarp and laid it out over the area for a week or two in the spring killed the sod and planted(corn,beans,peas) with a piece of rebar(ya its that rocky) or small hand shovel(plants) mulched the heck out of it,,,, had a great no till garden! Gonna be bigger next season.
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    Quote Originally Posted by js5020 View Post
    I have raised beds, love em I too have more rocks than anyone should be allowed to have so native soil gardening is out of the question. This year I wanted more space so I tried no-till,,,, yes no till and I didn't break out any ground breaking tools, no plows, no tillers, nothing. I just took a tarp and laid it out over the area for a week or two in the spring killed the sod and planted(corn,beans,peas) with a piece of rebar(ya its that rocky) or small hand shovel(plants) mulched the heck out of it,,,, had a great no till garden! Gonna be bigger next season.
    I've seen the "no till" method done so many ways, I can't really figure out which way is better. I do like the one method of laying down a nice bed of straw, then dirt, then straw, and so on until you have what amounts to a "compost pillow" consisting of already good garden soil, and material which will decompose through the year. Add the essentials on top like potash and fine ground calcium (for tomatoes) and you got yourself one heck of a great garden bed. Simply add your garden waste at the end of the harvest season, let it decompose naturally, then a layer or two of straw/dirt in early spring and you're ready to grow again. This is especially good for crops that are really hard on the soil like potatoes, and also loose enough for carrots, celery, and the like. Add some clay soil in the sections where you want to plant corn and other taller veggies.

    Out here we have rocky soil too, but the rocks are bigger, like the size of softballs up to basketballs. I've pretty much cleared my garden of most of them. I use the tried and true method of adding lots of potash though the winter months (I burn 10 to 12 cord of wood a year), add mushroom mulch in the spring, and till in the garden waste at the end of the year. Usually we have a pretty good yield year after year. Garden is 100' bx 25', and are thinking of expanding this year (again).

    We preserve everything from the garden, and then some (purchase a lot of fruit in bulk). We used over 400 mason jars this year, and will most likely add about another 100 to that before the winter. Kids love all the "fresh" food, and our grocery bill is down to about $200 a month for a family of 4.
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