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Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

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Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/27/2012, 3:03 pm

Finally, good news! I was assigned my community garden plot yesterday! I've been waiting for it since last spring.
Did a lot of haggling because I had been skipped over early this spring; and practically had to threaten them to get a plot.
I'll have a BIG project just clearing it. Seems no one has worked it in years! I have weeds almost waist high, found there were strawberry(bearing berries) plants under some of that foliage! Trying to clear at least that area so the plants can breathe.
There are so many stones and pieces of brick, well, mostly full and half bricks, I may have to screen the soil before I can work it.
Then they tell me some inspectors will be coming by on June 23rd! "Will you be able to get something planted by then?" AARRRRRGGGHHHH!!!! Evil or Very Mad
Well, back to work. Want to at least get the berry plants uncovered and the perimeter determined. Wish me luck.
Lee

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  walshevak on 5/27/2012, 3:27 pm

Sounds like a perfect place to knock down the tallest weeds, cover over with multiple layers of cardboard, newspapers and weedcloth and plunk a 4x4 on top filled with MM. Smile Use the bricks to outline the perimeter and a bed for the strawberries so that yes, you have something planted and can satisfy the inspectors and give you more time to clean up the rest of the plot and make a reasonable plan for a fall garden.

How big is the plot?

Kay

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/27/2012, 3:43 pm

I neglected to measure it this morning but will this afternoon.
Lee

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  Triciasgarden on 5/27/2012, 4:09 pm

Wow, and you had to wait for that? Anyway, I would pull out and dig out everything, keep the strawberry plants in some soil and maybe even plant them in pots for now to keep them alive and set them aside. Keep rocks and brick in one area. Dig it all up to loosen it up, pulling out all pieces of plant material. If it is weeds, it will sprout and grow even if it does not have roots.

If you are able, you can set it up in SFG frames, depending on the size of your plot. If you just don't have time for that now and it sounds like you don't, add compost, peat moss and vermiculite and mix it in well. You can go to a garden center and get some vegetable plants that are already started and follow directions on how to take care of them. Depending on your garden size, group plants together to make it look organized.

Walshevaks ideas are very good!

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/27/2012, 7:17 pm

Tricia - thank you for the suggestion. I had asked about transplanting the strawberries on another forum and got the same suggestion you gave.
The weeds are unbelievable! I went back this afternoon and did some serious cutting of the seed heads on all the weeds. Not too easy as it's hard to tell what is below those weeds and if the ground is even level. It's NOT! Almost turned my ankle twice.
The lot is about 13 1/2 ft by 19 ft. Not quite square but close. It's a great plot, right at the beginning of the gardens, at a corner so I have only 1 neighbor.

This is the view of my plot from the front:


This is from the right front corner:


This view is from the side looking down toward the other gardens in my row:


This is the view from the back which parallels the street:


I will take more pictures of the area, and you will NOT see any true SFG there. There are a couple(I think) people who have raised beds with some kind of sides, not wood.
Almost without exception, every one of the gardens are row gardens; though some have raised the soil to imitate raised beds but are still planted in rows.
Lee

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  rowena___. on 5/27/2012, 7:27 pm

if this were my project, i'd cut the weeds down as close to the ground as possible, lay a very heavy layer of newspaper and cardboard, then build up the beds from there.

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/27/2012, 7:42 pm

@walshevak wrote:Sounds like a perfect place to knock down the tallest weeds, cover over with multiple layers of cardboard, newspapers and weedcloth and plunk a 4x4 on top filled with MM. Smile Use the bricks to outline the perimeter and a bed for the strawberries so that yes, you have something planted and can satisfy the inspectors and give you more time to clean up the rest of the plot and make a reasonable plan for a fall garden.

How big is the plot?

Kay

The plot is about 13 1/3 ft by 19 ft, though it is not really square. But those weeds are not that easily broken down. I have to cut off the tops of any that are seeding. I can't put those in the compost pile. Then I found the strawberries so I want to move those. No problem with that. Tomorrow I'll get them into pots with some good soil. happy banana
Since this plot has not been worked for about 6 years the weeds have really dug themselves in. Once I get them cut down I can hire some one to till the plot for me. Once it is tilled I can get rid of most of the vegetation and cover it all with newspaper I've been collecting. Then mulch!
Any suggestions for mulch material?
I have a 4 x 4 pre-made box to order, 1 - 42" diameter round "box" ordered, my garden tools, and the fixings for MM. I almost had some bat guano but they are all out for the season. Sad
I think the strawberries will go in the round one as it is only 4" high.
I had a day bed with a vinyl coated steel frame. I saved the frame to make a cozy sitting area. Just need to get stuff for some trellis to bad the bed.
Enough to start with, anyway.
I'm depending on all of you to help me create an outstanding garden for the presentation on June 23rd! thanks
Lee

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/27/2012, 7:56 pm

@rowena___. wrote:if this were my project, i'd cut the weeds down as close to the ground as possible, lay a very heavy layer of newspaper and cardboard, then build up the beds from there.

I would love to but with the inspectors coming I don't think the plot would really look very good with all the newspaper and cardboard. If it weren't for this inspection I would do just what you suggested. Thanks.
Lee

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  walshevak on 5/27/2012, 8:14 pm

I'm assuming you are having it tilled so you can work the dirt level enough for your SFG boxes. I stand by my original suggestion. Cover the entire plot with multiple layers of cardboard and newspaper. Try a furniture store for big pieces of cardboard. Put in the 2 beds you already have and cover the rest with shredded hardwood mulch. Maybe put a few potted plants and herbs nestled into the mulch for the presentation. When you get your garden plan made and can obtain the additional boxes and MM, you can rake aside the mulch into the aisles, leveling it for walking, add more newspaper under the bed locations for extra weed control and have the best garden in the community.

I'm so glad to see the water source close by.

Kay

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  Kelejan on 5/27/2012, 8:19 pm

Make sure that the inspectors see the pictures you took and the date you took over. I am sure they don't expect miracles, and the picture will show how much progress you have made. Good luck, SwampCatNana.Smile

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/27/2012, 8:53 pm

@walshevak wrote:I'm assuming you are having it tilled so you can work the dirt level enough for your SFG boxes. I stand by my original suggestion. Cover the entire plot with multiple layers of cardboard and newspaper. Try a furniture store for big pieces of cardboard. Put in the 2 beds you already have and cover the rest with shredded hardwood mulch. Maybe put a few potted plants and herbs nestled into the mulch for the presentation. When you get your garden plan made and can obtain the additional boxes and MM, you can rake aside the mulch into the aisles, leveling it for walking, add more newspaper under the bed locations for extra weed control and have the best garden in the community.

I'm so glad to see the water source close by.

Kay

You are right Kay. thanks Thank you for understanding what I meant by having it tilled. I'm so tired I didn't even think to say why I want it tilled! cyclops
Definitely a plan. I have some seeds germinating at home right now, and could pot some of them and even put a few tomato plants around.
One of the gardeners has seeds from tomatoes that were brought over from Sicily over 30 years ago. He was given tomatoes from the original plants and kept the seeds. Planted them and got the same tomatoes. He is willing to share with me. He says they are basically for canning somewhat like a Roman but bigger and meatier. Looking forward to trying those!
I also found I have some cilantro on my plot, and will be re-potting those to save them.
Lee

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  GWN on 5/27/2012, 11:15 pm

Hi there
I would have to echo several other suggestions here about cutting low and applying cardboard.
I have about half an acre to garden and the area has been left for about 20 years. The quack grass is totally impossible to deal with and I think my digging down and pulling them just makes the problem worse.
Tilling cuts it up into pieces but each teensy piece creates a new plant.
So covering it up seems to be the only way to totally get rid of the weeds.
I guess I do not understand totally what the inspectors are looking for when they inspect, what are the goals of the community garden?
I think to put in a SFG will be a show case for everyone there to see.

Thanks for the pictures, it puts it all into perspective.

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/28/2012, 12:30 am

GWN - truthfully I don't care what they are looking for. But the committee who runs this garden are all up tight about this. Apparently they department that regulates these community gardens expect certain things done. No structures over 6' tall so they don't block a view into all the gardens. That is one of the regulations. So I guess they want everyone's garden to look "spic and span".

None of what is there will be a problem if the plot is tilled. I need to get it to one level before I put done the paper and cardboard. I will be putting it down and covering it with mulch. I have 3 weeks to get it decent looking.
Lee

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  GWN on 5/28/2012, 1:10 am

Best of luck

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  Kelejan on 5/28/2012, 2:49 am

Best of luck and keep us posted.

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  Goosegirl on 5/28/2012, 9:38 am

My goodness! That looks terrible! I can't believe that with it looking like that for as long as it has, that they would not be happy with ANY kind of improvement on their inspection! Do what you can and make sure they see the 'before' pictures!

You have an incredible sized chunk of garden there to work with. Definitely post pics of your process cleaning it up and we will celebrate with you when you have it 'finished' (in partial quotes since we all know that our gardens are NEVER 'finished'). Work hard, post lots, and we are all pulling for you!

GG

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/28/2012, 11:44 am

Thank you all for your suggestion and support.
I took more pics yesterday afternoon to show "progress". The thing is if I hadn't found the strawberry plants I would have done more. Getting the plants with seed heads first is my 1st goal. cheers
Lee

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/28/2012, 1:57 pm

Just received a call from one of the garden committee women(Janet) to "warn" me about something that happened to my garden. She says some of the gardeners saw me trying to cut down the weeds on my plot and weed wacked it all. It is supposed to be level now. hyper
I asked about the strawberry plants and she said them too. Actually, by doing that they made the decision for me and it's done! Now I can go there are lay down my wet newspaper and cardboard. Hurray! rahrah
In a way I'm glad, but I would have liked to save the strawberries. She even offered to give me some of hers!
No problem. I can't believe how great it feels to know I have been given such a gift.
Lee Wink

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  walshevak on 5/28/2012, 2:04 pm

See if the strawberry crowns are left. You might be able to salvage them. Or just go with the flow and start completely over works too.

Kay

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/28/2012, 2:09 pm

@walshevak wrote:See if the strawberry crowns are left. You might be able to salvage them. Or just go with the flow and start completely over works too.

Kay

Yeah, I figured I'd check. Not sure what she meant by "it's level". Still need it tilled to level out the dirt, the plot is slightly tilted. Will get some cinder blocks to make a retaining wall on the down hill side. Not much of a tilt, maybe 5 degrees.
Lee

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  quiltbea on 5/29/2012, 4:47 pm

Gosh, how did I miss this post earleir.

SwampCat.....I agree that tilling might be the way to go. Cut down the worst of the high weeds and then have it tilled. Then you can cover the ground with cardboard and layers of newspaper before adding straw on top for pathways. Place your raised beds or mark them for future layout. Go from there. That should give you some great garden space. I can't wait to see your progression.

I know its hard work, but we are all pulling for you. Go girl!

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/29/2012, 5:20 pm

UPDATE:
I was able to dig up about a dozen strawberry plants. Right now they are in a foil and wet paper lined basket. I will be transplanting them into a window box tomorrow.
I raked up the debris from the weed whacking. It still looks terrible.
I will be getting help moving the rocks to a corner(upper left) to create a rock garden. Any suggestions on what to plant to make it look like a real rock garden?
The upper left corner will have a painted slab of cement on which I will put pots with plants. I also found a hunk of tree trunk about 15" in diameter, 15" tall, and has a 5" hole just off center of the top. I'd like to plant something special there. Either in a pot or not.
This is how the plot looked before the weed whackers got to it.

This is how it looks now after the weed whackers.

I also met the gentleman who does the tilling and he will till the plot this weekend for just $20.00! Now I'm on my way!
Lee

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  plantoid on 5/29/2012, 5:44 pm

I'm not in to complete eco green never use a weed killer. MY ethos is " If the circumstances warrant it use it.

I'd rather spend my time sowing and planting than busting my back weeding if at all possible.

As a once off I'd use " Round up " on the whole plot .... out of a watering can just to hit as many regrows as possible now that you have raked of the cut up stuff before you get it tilled over.

If you can do it tomorrow Wednesday it will have had three days to get down to the roots by Saturday and should save you a lot of hard graft in the future.

Buy a load of starts on Sunday and get them in ASAP in your " String line planned bed shapes " .

You can then add the bed walls a bit at a time when you have time and money .

Once in place , line them and fill with MM & transplant the starts , water them in well & keep them moist but dont wash the nutrients out the mix . I found that most of my plants transplanted very well into MM from the original earth bases soils . I did have to stake the taller brassicas though for the MM was a wee bit too loose to hold the larger plants upright when we got strong winds.



The garlic I put in the fridfge for ten days to stratify them into germination , have take off at a flying start and are now two inches tall after only 21 days in the MM

You can also cheat a wee bit to fill up spaces and bung in loads of ficticious crops on plant labels Wink

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  Goosegirl on 5/29/2012, 6:41 pm

@plantoid wrote:You can also cheat a wee bit to fill up spaces and bung in loads of ficticious crops on plant labels Wink



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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

Post  SwampCatNana on 5/29/2012, 7:09 pm

@Goosegirl wrote:
@plantoid wrote:You can also cheat a wee bit to fill up spaces and bung in loads of ficticious crops on plant labels Wink



GG

rofl

Actually, I will be picking up the raised bed this weekend. So I don't need to plant them in the regular soil. Tomorrow I will be putting down paper and cardboard, and wetting it to cut out the weeds.
As funny as it is, I do love the idea of fictitious crops! Thanks.
There will be copious amount of mulch just as another member suggested.
Lee

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Re: Need tips on how to prepare and overgrown plot!

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