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Starting A New Garden

Do you want to start a garden but the place you picked to put it is full of grass?  Tilling the grass up as you till your garden for planting won’t help get rid of the grass.  In fact, it will spread the grass and make it grow better.  How do you avoid that problem and really get rid of the grass so you can plant?  Here are three ways to do that.  If you grow organically, you will find a couple of solutions to your grass problem that are organic. 

Before trying to remove the grass, lay out the perimeter of the garden with stakes and string.  This gives you an idea of the boundaries for the grass removal project.  Once that is done, you are ready to start killing the grass inside your garden plot.

The easiest way to get rid of the grass in your garden is to use a product containing Glyphosate.  The most common brand name of these herbicides is Roundup®.  It is an organophosphorus compound that kills whatever plant it touches when used correctly.  This means you must spray it on the grass on a calm day so the spray does not drift and touch something you want.

To eliminate the grass in your prospective garden plot, you will need to spray the herbicide over all the grass.  The soil temperature must be at least 65 degrees F when you do this or it won’t work.  Glyphosate works by traveling down from the blades of grass to the roots, where it kills them.  If the soil temperature is too cool, the blades of grass will not be sending food to the roots and the spray is wasted.  After you spray your garden plot, you need to wait two weeks and spray it again.  Then wait two weeks and till the garden plot.  All the dead grass will act as green manure and enrich your garden plot. Glyphosate has no residual effect, meaning that once it touches the dirt it is rendered inert.  It will not affect seeds or plants that are planted after it is used.  Be careful, however, to get pure glyphosate.  There are now products that contain not only glyphosate, but a pre-emergent to keep new seeds and plants from growing where it is sprayed.  This will keep your garden seeds and plants from growing at all as well.

Some people worry about using chemicals to clear their prospective vegetable garden.  In that case, here are two non-chemical control methods.  The first one is called solar sterilization of the soil.  It works well in areas that have two months of hot, sunny weather.  It does not work well in places without much sun or hot weather.

First, you will need to till the ground in your garden plot to a depth of eight to twelve inches.  Then, dig a three inch deep trough around the parameter of the garden plot.  A hoe will do that without too much of a problem.  Next, water the ground until it is really saturated and you start to get run off.  Then you spread the whole garden area with a big sheet of black plastic that is one to four mils thick.  When the plastic is spread over the whole garden, put the edges of the plastic in the three inch trenches you dug.  Cover the edges with soil from the trench.  You may need to use rocks to completely hold the plastic in place.  Now comes the hard part.  Let this sit for July and August to build up the heat necessary to kill any pathogens, weeds, or grass that you have in your garden plot.  When the plastic has been there for two months, you can remove it.  The dead grass and weeds can be tilled in now to use to enrich your soil for your coming garden.  You should be able to plant  a fall garden in places with a long growing season.  Otherwise, the garden soil is ready for the next spring.

The final method of getting rid of the grass in your prospective plot is the quickest way to get the grass out and the plot ready to plant, but is also the most labor intensive.  It is called double trench digging a garden.  You will need a spade, a garden fork,  and wheelbarrow to do this.  Start at one corner of your garden plot.  Dig a trench along the edge of the garden plot down at least twelve inches.  It should be about a foot wide.  Put the grass and soil you dig up in the wheelbarrow.  Use a garden fork to loosen the soil in the bottom of the trench another six inches deep.  Move over to the new edge of the garden plot and repeat these steps.  Put the grass you dug up out of the second trench into the first trench you dug. Cover the grass with the soil you are removing.  Till this soil deeply with the garden fork, being careful not to till up the grass in the trench.   Continue digging trenches a foot wide and a foot deep.  Till the dirt in the trenches with the garden fork.  Then put the grass and dirt removed into the trench next to the one it comes from.  When you reach the far edge of the garden plot, put the grass and dirt from the first trench in it.  The whole process provides deeply tilled and aerated soil for your plants to grow in.  This also should eliminate the grass in the plot and any weeds in the dirt.  It is very labor  intensive, but only has to be done once a season.  Your vegetables will grow larger and produce more because their roots can grow easily into the tilled soil.  The soil has been aerated and loosened so the roots can really grow well.

Any of these methods will produce the final resort you are looking for:  a garden plot free of grass and weeds.  The choice depends on individual preference.  One note:  glyphosate is not approved for use on organic gardens.  If you use it, you will lose your opportunity to be certified organic for five years from the date of application.


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Growing Caladium

Caladiums grow from tubers sold in the spring.

You can buy the tubers and plant your own, but buying a full-grown plant is the easiest way to know what color the leaves will be.

Give your Caladiums high humidity or the leaf margins may turn brown.

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