Fixing my Mess of a Garden

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by nicolemac, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. nicolemac

    nicolemac Out Of The Brooder

    71
    1
    43
    Jan 6, 2013
    Isle of Skye
    As chickens will be moving into it in a few weeks, i have to get my garden into order. I need advice from the experts, or at least anyone with experience in reviving a bad garden.

    To give you an idea, my garden is:
    • filled with rocky soil - you can't get a shovel in 5cm without hitting a big huge rock.
    • was covered in grass seeds just before we moved in, so grass is everywhere (and soggy and outgrown)
    • has uneven ground - we tried to dig into it to place flowerbeds but soon gave in after the discovery of huge rocks underneath.

    Where do i start!? Oh, to make my problem trickier, it needs to be done with chickens in mind, so nothing that can poison them.

    Any ideas will be appreciated, thanks!
     
  2. 1MrsMagoo

    1MrsMagoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,318
    36
    173
    Jan 11, 2010
    St Tammany Parish LA
    I have one area at my place like this. My solution was to build raised beds on top of the bad ground. We originally built them from used decking boards, but we are slowly upgrading to concrete blocks. Also, by doing this, you can run plumbing to each box for a drip system (sprinkler warehouse has great prices on the component pieces).

    The boxes are a bit over a foot deep, but can be as deep as you want. They vary but I have several that are 30" wide by 5' long. I wanted to be able to reach completely across it from either side. I filled the bottom several inches with leaves and organic debris and then topped them with a mixture of dirt and garden soil. We were able to get the dirt from another location on our property and moved it with the loader on our tractor. I don't know how economically feasible obtaining enough dirt would be.

    I have grown everything in these: Corn, beans, carrots, etc. If you use square foot gardening, you can maximize the amount you can grow. As the organic matter that is in the bottom of the boxes breaks down the dirt level drops. If I have an "off" season, I dump the bedding from my daughter's guinea pigs and my chick brooders on top of the beds. When I prepare the bed for planting, I turn all the soil and add any additional dirt or planting mix needed.

    You could also ask landscapers if they have any old tree pots: The BIG ones that are over 20 gallons. You can line those up and use those instead. However, they do lose moisture faster, so you'd have to more work watering.

    If I get on my other computer I can post a picture of what we did.
     
  3. 1MrsMagoo

    1MrsMagoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,318
    36
    173
    Jan 11, 2010
    St Tammany Parish LA
    Okay, I loaded some pictures, but of course they aren't in order.
    Since we took these last year, we have put down weed screen between all the boxes to cut down work (no more weed eating). However a heavy layer of newspaper (wet each piece and lay them out) or leaves will help a lot too.

    These are the nursery pots I was telling you about: Complete with a drip system that is fed from a 5 gallon bucket. The pots were free (in dumpster at newly built house where we were installing tile) and the drip parts were under $20.


    [​IMG]

    Here are the eggplants I grew in these buckets.

    [​IMG]

    This is one of the raised garden beds we use. I has Marconi Peppers in it. I have found that the peppers planted in the raised beds out preform the ones I plant in the ground 2 to 1.

    [​IMG]

    The same bed from above, but with juvenile plants.

    [​IMG]



    One of the beds full of zucchini and summer squash plants.

    [​IMG]

    A side view of the garden. The pallets in the foreground were my compost bin. The ones in the background were attached together and stood to form A frames: I grew winter squash on these.

    [​IMG]

    A view of the raised beds from the end.

    [​IMG]

    Another view.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. SweetSilver

    SweetSilver Chillin' With My Peeps

    Do you live in an area where tree chips are free and abundant? If so, pile it on! The deeper the better. Then wait a season and start planting in the fall. If the chips haven't decomposed enough to have already made some good soil below, then add good soil in each planting hole, down to the native soil. You can level the yard, add good, humus-y material and kill the grass all in one feel swoop.
     
  5. nicolemac

    nicolemac Out Of The Brooder

    71
    1
    43
    Jan 6, 2013
    Isle of Skye
    wow! i love the look of your garden, unfortunately mine isn't even medium sized, so im not sure the wooden boxes are an option. hoping on using most of the space on the chickens! I can probably use the nursery pot ideas, i'd love to grow some of my own plants this summer!
     
  6. nicolemac

    nicolemac Out Of The Brooder

    71
    1
    43
    Jan 6, 2013
    Isle of Skye
    I'm afraid I have to get it done in 6 weeks, i like the idea of killing the grass in a swoop though, what is this humus-y material? I'd need something that wont harm my chicks.
     
  7. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,735
    117
    188
    Nov 16, 2012
    We have always had rocky uneven soil. So we garden in raised beds and just have a truckload of mushroom compost brought in after we get the frames laid where we want them and then we fill the frames with the compost and then plant in the raised beds...no need for tilling or anything. Then you can use any composted chicken manure to mix in with the compost. And it goes and grows great. With the mushroom compost you get a lot of mushrooms springing up, but mushrooms are good for plants so, no harm no foul. And mushroom compost is cheaper than topsoil, and i think it grows better as well. I do add some perlite and vermiculite and lime to the mix as well...all are safe for people and chickens alike. Not a lot of ferts are needed with the compost either, although I did add some bat guano last year a couple of times...this year it will be chicken manure. Anyway that is how we garden in rocky crap soil...roots can grow around rocks that are a pain to dig up so just cover them and plant on top. I've also only left whatever grass is there and just covered it up. The grass usually dies before making it to the sun again, which also helps to feed the plants. Just make sure no grass is still showing through the dirt that you add on top. We had a couple of places where our frames didn't line up and grass grew between those spaces, but no grass popped up in the middle of the garden where the grass had been covered. It really is the easiest way to garden. And cheap if you use just old wood scraps, the cheaper the better, because treated lumber is more expensive, and not really what you want to use. At least not what I want to use. Last year out frames were made from an old porch we had torn down.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  8. nicolemac

    nicolemac Out Of The Brooder

    71
    1
    43
    Jan 6, 2013
    Isle of Skye
    I have plenty ways of getting wood scraps, i always know a joiner with some to spare. I've never heard of mushroom compost! I will look into it.
    I was actually thinking of having my coop at the end of the garden, then grass in the middle and some sort of paving at the end?
    Is there anyway I can cover the grass in soil all over, kill the grass by locking out the sun, and at the same time level it out with the compost or some soil?
    Cheers
     
  9. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,282
    454
    246
    Nov 10, 2010
    Try spraying the area you want dead with un-diluted, direct from the bottle, white vinegar. Spray on a calm day so it doesn't drift to areas you don't want damaged.
    Honestly, I haven't tried it out yet, but I will this summer. This is advice that I got from a friend who says it works but built himself a "weed torch" because "it is more fun that way". He almost set his garage on fire with it last fall! [​IMG]
     
  10. nicolemac

    nicolemac Out Of The Brooder

    71
    1
    43
    Jan 6, 2013
    Isle of Skye
    Oh right, so the vinegar kills the grass? That sounds perfect, a weed torch does sound like fun![​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by