Cultivating From Scratch - Knowledgebase Question

Stockton-on Tees, In
Question by LisaJohnson0
January 22, 2000
I have just acquired an allotment that has not been cultivated for several years. It is large and predominantly covered by grass. Do I need to remove the grass before double digging or can I just dig it in? If I hired a rotavator would I need to put weed killer on the plot first? I hope you can help.


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Answer from NGA
January 22, 2000

0

sod-lifting method, be sure to save the grassy sod for the compost pile, so it will not be wasted.

Here in the US most gardeners do not take the time to double-dig their own gardens because of the time and effort it takes. In my own garden, to insure success without becoming discouraged, I would first start small: better to successfully tackle a small area, then to have a large area with only mixed results. It's too easy to become overwhelmed! After limiting my garden area, I would cover it with black plastic or heavy layers of paper (held down by rocks or sod) to keep the light out and kill the grass. Several weeks later I would roto-till very well, making repeated passes. On the final several passes I would add compost or other organic matter to the soil. Then I would continue to amend the areas as I placed each plant or seeds. Each season I add extra amendments in the form of mulch or compost. While this is not as thorough as the double-digging method, it is one that works well for my time and gardening style. Another tip: if possible, plant annuals rather than perennials for a year or two so you have the opportunity to completely roto-till again adding more amendments. Hope this gives you some options and answers. Enjoy your new garden!



sod-lifting method, be sure to save the grassy sod for the compost pile, so it will not be wasted.

Here in the US most gardeners do not take the time to double-dig their own gardens because of the time and effort it takes. In my own garden, to insure success without becoming discouraged, I would first start small: better to successfully tackle a small area, then to have a large area with only mixed results. It's too easy to become overwhelmed! After limiting my garden area, I would cover it with black plastic or heavy layers of paper (held down by rocks or sod) to keep the light out and kill the grass. Several weeks later I would roto-till very well, making repeated passes. On the final several passes I would add compost or other organic matter to the soil. Then I would continue to amend the areas as I placed each plant or seeds. Each season I add extra amendments in the form of mulch or compost. While this is not as thorough as the double-digging method, it is one that works well for my time and gardening style. Another tip: if possible, plant annuals rather than perennials for a year or two so you have the opportunity to completely roto-till again adding more amendments. Hope this gives you some options and answers. Enjoy your new garden!



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