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Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

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Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  Mrs. Dee on 5/26/2013, 11:42 am

My husband built me a 4x6 box two years ago, and I am embarrassed to say that I have never tried planting a thing in it. Life got in the way (health, pregnancy, etc).

Fast forward to two years later, my box is overgrown with weeds and a stubborn rose bush that does not want to go away.

The rose bush is another problem in itself. We chopped it down as far as we were able to dig in the dirt, then tried chopping up whatever roots we could reach in the ground, but the persistent thing just grew back with even more shoots and flowers!

Is there a remedy for this? I'd really like to start putting veggies into the ground right now, but it seems like it will be a lot of trouble, even if I hand pull all the weeds. I don't mind the labor, but I'm afraid that my new seedlings will get overcrowded with weeds popping up around them.

If worse comes to worse, I'm willing to wait it out until next Spring and just try doing the lasagna garden method on top of what I already have in the box. The problem here is that there isn't much more than a few inches of room to add on top of what is existing in my box.

Underneath all those weeds and rose bush is Mel's Mix. Please help me save my garden.

Here's a photo of my 4x6 box. It was covered with a cover my husband made out of chicken wire and pvc pipes, to keep squirrels and birds out, temporarily. That darned rose bush grew right through it. I know, I have a big mess on my hands and you are probably thinking what a waste. Embarassed


Last edited by Mrs. Dee on 5/26/2013, 11:45 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : copied and pasted too many times by accident)
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  boffer on 5/26/2013, 11:57 am

I think the MM is too valuable to waste. I would pull out the MM, and sift it through ½ inch hardware cloth. It won't take that long if the MM is on the dry side. Then lay down a weed barrier in the box, and re-fill.
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  Mrs. Dee on 5/26/2013, 12:23 pm

Thank you so much for your reply, boffer.

I just might try that. The only thing that worries me about this is the chances of all the weed seeds that might be mixed into the MM. Won't they just sprout right up, after the mix is put back into the box?
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  boffer on 5/26/2013, 12:31 pm

They might, but it only takes a thumb and forefinger to pull weeds out of MM as they appear.



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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  littlejo on 5/26/2013, 12:48 pm

After you have sifted as Boffer said, you could put plastic, maybe a trash bag, down on top of mm, and plant thru it. This may help kill the weeds and keep them to a point that you could keep up. As far as the rose bush, you will prob. have to dig down to get roots out, maybe put plastic down where you cut rose bush, then put mm on top. Pretty rose.
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  CapeCoddess on 5/26/2013, 12:58 pm

Worse comes to worse, maybe you could pull up the box and relocate it...maybe just flip in over toward the front. And sift all the MM you can from the old location to the new after putting some weed barrier down.

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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  Mrs. Dee on 5/26/2013, 3:20 pm

Thank you for the tips. I will pull the weeds, empty the box, put down a weed barrier, sift the MM and put it back into the box.

When my husband first put this box together, he never laid down a weed barrier cloth, but I did put down a thick layer of wet newspaper on top of the cut weeds. Is it possible that the current weeds I have in the box are the original ones that managed to come through the newspaper? If not, where did all the weeds come from? I suppose seeds could have flown in from all the surrounding weeds outside the box? thinking

Out of curiosity, how well does solarization with a clear plastic tarp work? Would that kill any of the seeds that will be left behind? If it's not a guarantee, I'd rather not waste time by doing it.

Sorry for all the questions. I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I've been researching online for the past couple days and my brain now feels fried.
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  boffer on 5/26/2013, 3:39 pm

@Mrs. Dee wrote:...where did all the weeds come from?...

Out of curiosity, how well does solarization with a clear plastic tarp work? Would that kill any of the seeds that will be left behind? If it's not a guarantee, I'd rather not waste time by doing it.

Weed seeds could come from birds, wind, or critters. If you used homemade compost, they could have been in there.

Solarization is commonly mentioned, but I doubt it's effectiveness in all but the hottest climates. You would want the MM temp to reach 130-150 degrees all the way to the bottom of the box. It would never happen in my climate. I don't know how long a hot streak would be necessary in your climate. I imagine you would miss out on planting late spring/early summer this year. Maybe if you spread out the MM into a thinner layer it would go faster.

As suggested above, mulch of some type would help a lot, and it wouldn't slow down your planting schedule.

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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  camprn on 5/26/2013, 3:53 pm

To rehab this bed I would hand pick and use a garden fork to get any remaining roots. Add fresh compost, and plant. Hand pick any small weed seedling in the first week or so then use a mulch, whether it's homemade compost or shredded bark mulch. That should suppress or at least limit any new germination of further weeds this season. It really should not take that long.

However, full excavation of the rose bush is recommended.

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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  Lemonie on 5/26/2013, 10:51 pm

I had a box that I didn't end up replanting after losing crops to frost early last spring. It got hit w/ lots of fresh grass clippings and sprouted a very healthy box of grass and weeds all summer. Embarassed I finally decided to take it back for garden use this year. If you water it really well first, pulling those weeds out of the MM is pretty simple. I make a point to look it over carefully at least every other day (when I'm watering) and pull every hint of weed/grass I see popping up. It really doesn't take very long at all and I finally have veggies flourishing in there. Smile I'm not sure what to do about the rose bush other than cut it out as much as possible and (like others said) put some black plastic over that part of the bed to burn it away. ...or keep it trimmed up and part of the bed. Smile
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  Mrs. Dee on 5/27/2013, 11:06 am

@camprn wrote:
However, full excavation of the rose bush is recommended.

I do like the idea of not having to empty out the entire box. Laughing

Do you have any tips on how to fully excavate the thing? My husband said the dug into the dirt about two feet, and there were still roots, but they started moving towards and under our neighbors fence. We live in an apartment townhouse, if that makes any difference.

I read about pouring boiling water, adding salt, vinegar, etc... but haven't read about anyone having any success with it. I really don't want to use herbicides.
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  Mrs. Dee on 5/27/2013, 11:09 am

@boffer wrote: As suggested above, mulch of some type would help a lot, and it wouldn't slow down your planting schedule.


Thanks again for all the great info. I now have mulch on my "to buy" list. Very Happy
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  Mrs. Dee on 5/27/2013, 11:11 am

@Lemonie wrote:I make a point to look it over carefully at least every other day (when I'm watering) and pull every hint of weed/grass I see popping up. It really doesn't take very long at all and I finally have veggies flourishing in there. Smile

That's very encouraging to hear and gives me hope! About how long did you keep pulling new weed sprouts before you decided to plant your veggies?
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  drixnot on 5/27/2013, 11:33 am

Pull the weeds and then use a heat gun to kill any seeds. The heat gun might also be used on the rosebush if the boiling water doesn't work.

Be careful though... they get VERY hot.
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  camprn on 5/27/2013, 12:05 pm

@Mrs. Dee wrote:
@Lemonie wrote:I make a point to look it over carefully at least every other day (when I'm watering) and pull every hint of weed/grass I see popping up. It really doesn't take very long at all and I finally have veggies flourishing in there. Smile

That's very encouraging to hear and gives me hope! About how long did you keep pulling new weed sprouts before you decided to plant your veggies?
Clean out the box of the current weeds and roots and plant. Are you planting seed or transplants?

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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  boffer on 5/27/2013, 1:40 pm

@drixnot wrote:Pull the weeds and then use a heat gun to kill any seeds. ...

Personally, I wouldn't try this because the heat will also kill good micro-organisms, and seeds can sprout at the bottom of the box too, so you would have to heat all the MM.

The SFG method reduces the amount of weeds, but there will always be weeds in gardens.

@Mrs. Dee wrote:...I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I've been researching online for the past couple days and my brain now feels fried.

I'll suggest that you may have reached the point of analysis paralysis, and that it's time to do something. good job!
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  Mrs. Dee on 5/27/2013, 1:43 pm

@camprn wrote:
@Mrs. Dee wrote:
@Lemonie wrote:I make a point to look it over carefully at least every other day (when I'm watering) and pull every hint of weed/grass I see popping up. It really doesn't take very long at all and I finally have veggies flourishing in there. Smile

That's very encouraging to hear and gives me hope! About how long did you keep pulling new weed sprouts before you decided to plant your veggies?
Clean out the box of the current weeds and roots and plant. Are you planting seed or transplants?

Sounds good to me! I'd really like to try a combination of both.
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  Mrs. Dee on 5/27/2013, 1:46 pm

@boffer wrote:
@drixnot wrote:Pull the weeds and then use a heat gun to kill any seeds. ...

Personally, I wouldn't try this because the heat will also kill good micro-organisms, and seeds can sprout at the bottom of the box too, so you would have to heat all the MM.

The SFG method reduces the amount of weeds, but there will always be weeds in gardens.

@Mrs. Dee wrote:...I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I've been researching online for the past couple days and my brain now feels fried.

I'll suggest that you may have reached the point of analysis paralysis, and that it's time to do something. good job!
I'll have to agree with you on this. It's time to stop internet gardening and do some real gardening instead. Laughing
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  boffer on 5/27/2013, 1:52 pm

@Mrs. Dee wrote:...It's time to stop internet gardening and do some real gardening instead. Laughing

I like that!

It might make a good quote for Lavender Debs to put in her sig!
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  drixnot on 5/27/2013, 2:52 pm

Well, yes a heat gun would kill the microbes... but she mentioned she was going to add new compost ... I meant to use the heat gun to be use BEFORE the new compost went in..... new compost = new microbes.

No problems.

But there is also the possibility of just using a regular hair dryer ... a bit more work ... but the temperature is limited to 150-200 degrees (F)
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  boffer on 5/27/2013, 3:00 pm

@drixnot wrote:... I meant to use the heat gun to be use BEFORE the new compost went in..... new compost = new microbes...

That makes sense.

I have a 'weed torch' that I use on my gravel driveway sometimes. It is very satisfying watching those weeds shrivel and die! tongue
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  Triciasgarden on 5/27/2013, 4:53 pm

I have a a rose bush that I thought I dug out at least four times. I have decided to leave it and I gave it a name. It is not in a sfg bed as yours is. I did some reading on how to use store bought vinegar to get rid of weeds. Generally the store bought vinegar kills the younger weeds. But for something that is woodier (like a rose bush) some suggest using a metal brush to scrape it up so the vinegar can penetrate. What I would suggest would be cut the rose bush back and maybe even make a hole in the stem(s) and pour a little vinegar into the hole. The bush should absorb the vinegar and kill it to the roots. Pour carefully so as not to spill on the soil or you can even put some newspaper around the bush to absorb the excess vinegar. You may have to do this a few times. I cannot say from my experience that this will definitely work, but it sure is worth a try.

Some people from my church pulled up trees in my yard and suggested using WD 40 on the roots that were left and the roots would absorb it and die. I definitely wouldn't use WD 40 anywhere near my garden.
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Re: Need advice on prepping an overgrown box!

Post  Lemonie on 5/28/2013, 12:35 pm

That's very encouraging to hear and gives me hope! About how long did you keep pulling new weed sprouts before you decided to plant your veggies?

I added some more compost right away and kept it watered well for about a week before planting. I was careful to mark exactly what I planted and where so I wouldn't accidentally pull out the wrong thing.
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