Breaking ground for a new garden - sort of

Reinbeau

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I've mentioned in other posts I'm going to change the veggie garden out front to a more formal herb garden this coming season. For years there have been seven 12 x 4' 12" deep beds out there, with paths mostly wide enough for my cart. The paths were lawn, I kept them mowed between, but the grass was a PITA to keep down alongside the wooden beds. In any event, the beds are going. What I've done is laid newspaper ten sheets thick over the grass, layered about 5" of chopped leaves on top of the newspaper, then shoveled soil over the tops of the leaves. I'm hoping in the spring I'll be able to completely reconfigure the garden, adding cobblestone edges and pea-gravel paths in a rather rectangular layout with a central focus of a birdbath, sundial or perhaps a very small fountain, haven't decided yet.

Hopefully letting that soil sit on those leaves over the winter will get everything going down below and the turf will at least begin to rot. It'll be interesting to see how it all turns out.
 

Mothergoat

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Hi Reinbeau,

I just bought a book called Lasagna Gardening. The author touts her method as a no till, no weeds method. Sort of a variation on Ruth Stout. It's a variation on how I tend to garden these days, too. Well, she starts a new bed like you, but she puts a 2-3" thick wet pad of newspapers on top of the turf to begin. SHe then puts on alternating layers, carbonaceous mulches, peat moss, nitrogenous mulches and manures, soil amendments indicated necessary from a soil test like wood ash or greensand, followed by more peat moss between EACH layer. Her method is a bit more organized and specific than mine...which is pretty much, dump all the barn scrapings in a pile and get the kids to spread them out as they can over the winter, on top of newspaper and squashed cardboard boxes....But I may try her method, at least on a small spot. I have so many health issues, I need to make gardening as physically easy as possible. Will you share pictures after it is planted? I'd love to see. Linda :caf
 

Reinbeau

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Yes, I've heard of that book, and in a way it's what I'm trying to do. This is going to be a more formal herb garden, though, so I will turn the soil in the spring and make everything look neat. I'll definitely post pictures when it's installed!
 

digitS'

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Ann, I hope you aren't willing to put pea gravel on top of the soil, on top of the 5" of chopped leaves, on top of the newspaper, on top of the sod, on top of what might be good top soil.

It sounds like you may be intending to make a much larger planting area so there will be paths to fill in. That'll be good. Top soil and compost are precious things :D.

If it would mean loading a wheelbarrow and moving the good stuff to the backyard, there could be a lot of exhausting "material handling." But, sod makes good compost and, unless your soil really doesn't drain well, pea gravel isn't the most wonderful stuff beyond path surfacing. Hope you are doing your Winter exercises to be ready for the effort. :weight

Just speaking as someone who could literally "mine" naturally-occurring pea gravel out of my gardens :/ .

Steve
 

digitS'

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I had to check on the acronym definition for PITA - of course, this was after I outlined all that work for Ann to do with her super wheelbarrow.

So now I know that Ann is trying to escape all this hard work by covering up the grass.

I don't know what the Pacific International Trapshooting Association would think of all this, however!

Steve
:gig
 

Reinbeau

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Trust me, Steve, the good soil will not go to waste - I just didn't want to have to dig up all that sod to change around the paths! :watering

Pea gravel makes lovely paths, between cobblestones lining the edges of the planting beds - my mother's garden has them, and I love them. They are a PITA (that acronym again! :eek: ) only in that you have to deal with the weeds - but a good stirrup hoe makes short work of them. Trust me, I've worked with them for years now over there! Next season I'll post pictures of Mom's gardens.
 

Mothergoat

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Reinbeau, do you have to keep adding pea gravel to your paths every year? I'm always looking for ways to tame the gumbo muck we have here for about 8 mos a year. I made some short gravel paths with 3/4 minus and roofing paper underlayment as an experiment - the materials were free and I was in desperate need of something to tame the quicksands that were forming in my path to the nubian buckpen out back...After a month or so of twice daily foot traffic, the mud began squishing up through the roofing paper and the gravel. If you have any suggestions about how to prevent that, I'd be thrilled to hear them. I do like the look and feel (or nice footing) that pea gravel paths make. Thanks Linda
 

patandchickens

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Mothergoat said:
After a month or so of twice daily foot traffic, the mud began squishing up through the roofing paper and the gravel. If you have any suggestions about how to prevent that, I'd be thrilled to hear them. I do like the look and feel (or nice footing) that pea gravel paths make. Thanks Linda
"Landscape fabric". Comes in 3' x whatever rolls in garden centers. The heaviest duty you can find, or double thickness. Fairly cheap, unless it is a loooong path. Let gravel taper off beyond edges, or (much better) hide edges under, uh, edging :p like bricks or rox or whatnot. Works real well to keep gravel from sinking into mud (is largely what it was designed for).

Pat
 

Reinbeau

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Yep, Pat's right, landscape fabric beneath the pea gravel. Eventually weeds do get a bit of footing, but as I said, they're easily dealt with with a stirrup hoe.

We don't have a problem with wet soil squishing, both my gardens and my mother's are on fairly well-drained soil, so for that we're fortunate. The only reason to add more gravel is to replace what might get kicked out of bounds.
 

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