Permaculture forum: Replacing lawn with garden

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Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
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Oberon46
Apr 9, 2012 3:52 PM CST
I talked with the landscaper today who is coming to fix my pond and do a little redesign work on it. Will also dig up the putting green and replace with garden space. After all this talk of growing things my husband wants them to dig up a big section of lawn and turn that into a garden for vegies and flowers. I am thinking I want them to just turn the sod over (grass side down) then put the kitchen scraps I have been saving, the paper and such also (I wonder if it would work better if I ran the paper through a shredder first), then compost then a good grade of potting soil. That should raise it up a bit. Then I guess I just plant right into the top. Do you think that would work okay.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)

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hazelnut
Apr 9, 2012 5:49 PM CST
Why do you want to turn the sod over? Right side up is probably better and a lot less work. Do you have access to cardboard? I would mark out the area for the garden, put down your kitchen scraps, prunings, and shredded paper. Wet all this well, then lay on the cardboard. Make sure it is wet -- you can even soak it in a garbarge can (Dave's idea) You can mulch over the cardboard if you want it to look better, otherwise its not necessary.

To plant, just make a hole through to your original soil. The cardboard will smother the grass out. If you use unshredded paper -- such as newspaper just make sure its is wet.


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hazelnut
Apr 9, 2012 5:56 PM CST
Here is an instruction for how to use cardboard. Just trampling down the weeds works, no need to dig.

http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/using-cardboard-contr...

Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Apr 9, 2012 9:16 PM CST
We turn the sod to discourage growth of grass. It is a bit of a project, but having grass coming up in your garden particularly among plants that are rather grassy looking themselves is pretty discouraging. I like the idea of the cardboard though. I read the article (and a few others as well) and will give that a go. One of the things that is different here is that the ground/soil is really cold. Anything that prohibits the sun from warming the soil is not good. The author observed this same thing and attributed it to the straw covering. I will mostly be planting things I have started in my garage, but there are a few things like carrots that just don't lend themselves to that so part will be sown with seeds. I was also thinking about running perforated pvc pipe down valleys between rows or hills and using the water from the downspouts to feed them. But isn't that a no-no --- using the pvc pipe? I figured this would get the water down to the roots and I can use liquid fish fertilizer in the barrel to evenly distribute food to the plants.

I compost tea okay? I would like to also set up a barrel to make that which I can easily do.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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chelle
Apr 10, 2012 5:29 AM CST
Oberon46 said:
I compost tea okay?


Compost tea is very useful in those areas that are too fully planted to actually lay in compost; however, I like the straight stuff better, you then provide food for the microbes for a longer period of time, and it performs the same duties as a mulch as well. Smiling We have too much wildlife here to use a straight food of fish emulsion, blood or bone meal; it all has to be composted first or the critters just dig up all the plants.

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Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Apr 10, 2012 10:13 AM CST
Oberon46 said:We turn the sod to discourage growth of grass. It is a bit of a project, but having grass coming up in your garden particularly among plants that are rather grassy looking themselves is pretty discouraging. I like the idea of the cardboard though. I read the article (and a few others as well) and will give that a go. One of the things that is different here is that the ground/soil is really cold. Anything that prohibits the sun from warming the soil is not good. The author observed this same thing and attributed it to the straw covering. I will mostly be planting things I have started in my garage, but there are a few things like carrots that just don't lend themselves to that so part will be sown with seeds. I was also thinking about running perforated pvc pipe down valleys between rows or hills and using the water from the downspouts to feed them. But isn't that a no-no --- using the pvc pipe? I figured this would get the water down to the roots and I can use liquid fish fertilizer in the barrel to evenly distribute food to the plants.

I compost tea okay? I would like to also set up a barrel to make that which I can easily do.



I've done that with the perforated pipe ... sort of like a French drain system ... and it worked well. I will be interested to see how you do with this and how it works for you. Even if you change your mind and don't use the PVC pipe. Green Grin!



The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
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Oberon46
Apr 10, 2012 10:28 AM CST
Thanks. It would be more impressive if the garden space were larger, but still an interesting idea. It is only about 25' from the down spout to the proposed garden bed. Now, if the snow would only go away. Clear skies today although only 28.9F this morning. it will warm up soon and even if it doesn't get terribly warm the snow melts with the warmth of the direct sun.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Apr 10, 2012 10:31 AM CST
How much snow do you have there right now? The weather reports here said it was an all-time record?
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller

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hazelnut
Apr 10, 2012 11:20 AM CST
I don't know why you would not use pvc pipe. Various workman have left piles of it here, I use it for all kinds of things including hanging my clothes on it. re-purposing is great.

An alternative to using cardboard is solarization as described in this article. (scroll down to solarization -- the article is really about killing nematodes.

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ng047

Some people also use black plastic (viscuine) because it serves as a heat trap.

Either of these should work on cold soil. The only problem Ive heard about is that if left in place, the plastic will crack and make a big non-degradable mess.

I haven't tried putting a sheet of black plastic over cardboard, but theoretically it would seem a good way to both warm the soil, speed up the disintegration process, and kill unwanted vegetation by excluding sunlight. Just remove the plastic when its done its job and save it for another project.

If you use clear plastic you are also killing any soil bacteria--it really is for sterilizing the soil. Some soil bacteria you want to keep. Its sort of like taking antibiotics for a urinary tract infection--it kills all of your intestinal flora.
[Last edited by hazelnut - Apr 10, 2012 11:32 AM (+)]
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Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Apr 10, 2012 11:49 AM CST
Well pooh. Lost my message. Bottom line we have had 136" of snow a 60 year record.
I have used visqueen before and it does work well to warm the soil and keep weeds down. The dump here pulls interesting stuff out and puts in piles for people to come and take. All sorts of useful stuff.
I will look at the url as soon as I get back from babysitting.
Thanks
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Apr 10, 2012 1:38 PM CST
That's definitely a lot of snow. You seem to take it all in stride quite well. Green Grin!

I wish our dump did that. I love junkin', reusing, and repurposing. Thumbs up
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Apr 10, 2012 3:19 PM CST
I found tulips coming up out of the frozen mud, ice and snow today. Clear skies will melt the stuff fast. I was trying to 'help' and knocked off a few tops. Just gotta leave them alone. I did put a stick next to them with the date. I don't remember which I planted there and want to be sure to update my database with the correct date of 'first growth'.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
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lovemyhouse
Apr 10, 2012 3:31 PM CST
Mary Stella, I am in the process of digging up most of the grass in my front yard. Since it is heavy solid clay right there in the newly dug section, I forked it out, clods and all. Big job, and there was a LOT of dirt, but the cardboard or solarization wouldn't work as well for my purposes. Do think I can try one of them in back, and would be interested to hear which method you choose and how well it works for you.

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Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Apr 10, 2012 3:37 PM CST
That's looking very good, Debra. Impressive. Thumbs up
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Apr 10, 2012 3:40 PM CST
We have fairly good soil. Down about 1 foot or so you hit the clay layer, then sand. I am worried about using the cardboard unless maybe I put it into my 33 gallon garbage can and soaked it well with water as Dave suggests. Stuff just doesn't rot all that fast here. It could take years to break down. Paper, scraps, small twigs might work but even the twigs would take a long time to break down unless it is half rotten to begin with. I have those two bags of last years stuff in black bags and am hoping it is really rotten in there. Going to leave it in the black bags until the yard is dug up and ready. Maybe rotten kitchen stuff on bottom, then really wet (as in soggy) cardboard, then detritus from last year, then leaves I packed my rhody's in over winter to prevent wind and sunburn, then compost, thennnnnn soil. Surely that will work. It will be the middle of June before I think we can do this. If you dig down a foot you hit ice even then. Course, that wouldn't prevent ripping up the sod.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Apr 10, 2012 3:40 PM CST
I hope mine looks as good when it is done -- just hope it is plantible.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)

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hazelnut
Apr 11, 2012 6:41 AM CST
I had to laugh at Google when I searched "gardening on permafrost' -- Google says: The Page Does Not Exist.
I guess that is a message about trying to grow a garden on permafrost.

I did find this brief discussion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soil

Quote:

TemperatureSoil temperature regulates germination, root growth and availability of nutrients. Soil temperatures range from permafrost at a few inches below the surface to 38 C (100 F) in Hawaii on a warm day. The color of the ground cover and insulating ability have a strong influence on soil temperature. Snow cover and heavy mulching will reflect light and slow the warming of the soil, but at the same time reduce the fluctuations in the surface temperature.

Below 50 cm (20 in) soil temperature seldom changes and can be approximated by adding 1.8 C (2 F) degrees to the mean annual air temperature

Most often soil temperatures must be accepted and agricultural activities adapted to them.

1.To maximize germination and growth by timing of planting.
2.To optimize use of anhydrous ammonia by applying to soil below 10 C (50 F).
3.To prevent heaving and thawing of frosts from damaging shallow rooted crops.
4.To prevent damage to soil tilth by freezing of saturated soils.
5.To improve uptake of phosphorus by plants.
Otherwise soil temperatures can be raised by drying soils or using clear plastic mulches. Organic mulches slow the warming of the soil

End Quote.

permafrost soils are classified as Gelisols.



[Last edited by hazelnut - Apr 11, 2012 6:45 AM (+)]
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Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Apr 11, 2012 9:51 AM CST
Hmmmm, never knew all that. Rolling my eyes. Know it can destroy a two story house in a matter of a year or so. Just opens up as the ice thaws beneath because the house starts melting the permafrost and then proceeds to sink the house into the ground and just sort of chews it up. I have see it happen up by the University of Alaska on a stretch of road. They have what they call an ice tunnel there to do research on the permafrost. As it says it is frost that never thaws - permanent. I honestly don't know if we have permafrost down here this far south in Alaska. But the sun being reflected off the snow causing the ground to not thaw makes sense. Hence, I get my exercise each spring shoveling tons of the stuff off my garden. Damien says I should be patient and wait as it is also protecting the plants by not letting them sprout until it is warm enough for them. Believe me, by the time I get to the beds and start scraping snow off it is plenty warm enough.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)

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hazelnut
Apr 11, 2012 6:43 PM CST
As I remember our friend who lived on the Turnagain Arm gardened mostly in raised beds.
And also she used containers. I remember she was so proud of lining along her driveway, with whisky barrels full of Idared potatoes.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Apr 11, 2012 7:03 PM CST
that's an idea. I have a long driveway. I found a design in Handyman for some really neat 6' boxes but wow are they expensive to make I think they are asking around $50 a piece for the whiskey barrels, so figure 150 for six feet of those. Still cheaper. Course then I have to move them and store them so Damien can run the snowblower down the drive in winter. Still a good idea. Thanks.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)

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