Question Making a garden where none exists

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Lego, Aug 5, 2019.

  1. Lego

    Lego Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2019
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    1
    Hi as I wrote in my intro I have minimal gardening experience. My question is in relation to the 'lawn' area aka grass and weed combo.

    It is a bit compacted due to dog running around on area and the soil in area was moved there by bobcat from front yard aprox 8yrs ago. So it's lots of the clay based under soil no real help to improve soil in last 8 yrs.

    Wondering what the best way to prep the area to turn into veggie garden beds. We want to do at ground level will have sleepers around edge to help keep dirt in and also we are considering chickens so will make it so garden beds can be closed off and allow chickens safe access to unused veg patch so can provide eggs and fertilizer.

    Am i going to need to double dig? If so how deep?as it will be hard going.

    Ir could i just loosen the top few inches with breaker bar and then do a no dig type patch on top?

    Do you have to cut the grass away (ie shovel it out? Or can you just do the no dig on top. Would you have to use the paper to stop the grass/weeds from growing through?

    As you can see almost complete noob. I have never dug a garden bed before so no clue.
     
  2. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,511
    Likes Received:
    690
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Hi Lego and welcome!

    You can do any of those manually laborious things you mentioned to turn virgin lawn into productive vegetable beds......if you need and/or want that degree of exercise and can't possibly wait a few extra weeks!

    OR....

    You can get the microbiology to do it for you.

    Me now being in my twilight years, I know which choice I would make.

    Your proposed chooks are going to be your best asset as long as you make the effort to design their tractor house properly.

    Start with them because their scratching and manure will fund your veg beds. Decide on the size and shape of the tractor, usually 2m X 1m if wanting rectangular beds or a 4m circle if you like more organic shapes. The circular chook tractor is easier to build using electrical conduit, chicken mesh and a good tarp. And its very light, which can be a downside if your dog or neighbouring dogs like chicken too!

    The rectangular tractor requires timber and building skills and being heavy will need wheels under one end to drag it along each week. But it will be more predictor proof and storm proof if you get bad wind and rain because you will build in one end for the weatherproof 'shed' bit.

    Never be sucked in to taking the shortcut of only making the hen house knee or even waist height. Firstly the radiated heat from the close roof in summer will kill the chooks. You need to be able to get in there to clean, tidy, sterilize the structure and catch the chooks when needed. And their roosting perches should not be over their boxes or you get manure on the eggs which is the cause of salmonella. Washing the eggs is a big no no, as it removes the waxy protective coating and pushes any bacteria into the porous shell.

    Google is your friend. Search chicken tractor for many options, plans and videos for construction.
    Try this guy for plans and watch his videos. He's a commercial grower in USA so his tractors are over populated because he's growing meat birds. But for egg layers living in the structure permanently, I'd say 4 is the right number for that size tractor. Your beds will then also be that size. His tractors don't have any sort of proper weatherproofing. You'll have to add insulated iron or something like old cold room wall material that doesn't radiate heat in summer.


    The biological residue from the chooks will soften the soil, their mulch will kill the grass and weeds and compost it down, their manure will fertilize the soil ready for your first crop. The only digging you'll need is to make the seed bed in a little corner of your first bed after you've moved the tractor along.

    Generally, its not good to dig with a shovel if you want the biology to stay intact in the soil. Digging, turning and smashing the clods are old fashioned methods which are now known to kill the natural microbiology when exposed to air and UV and also breaks the fungal threads that aid in decomposition and the chemical transactions of organic material into plant food.

    Digging with an old fashioned proper potato fork is slightly better for the soil but good luck finding a decent secondhand one, as new ones aren't worth the money.

    Heavy mulching after the chooks have been moved along is far better for longevity of an organic garden. Use combinations of straw, hay, bark fines, shredded paper, council tip green waste mulch, your own prunings, cardboard all piled up to almost knee height and well watered will provide a wealth of microbiota. The heap will get hot, you can turn it after two weeks if you must, then let it cool, while your seedlings get big enough to plant out. And your away. You might need a small hand cultivator tool to loosen the soil to plant into but that will be all.

    For your clay, add copious gypsum and yet more mulch to encourage the worms to take the gypsum down into the clay.

    That's enough for now. Start getting materials together in piles in your back yard. And get your tractor built and order your chooks. All that will take 3-4 wks. By then the possibility of a last frost will be past and you can add chooks to tractor and start piling in heaps of mulch for them to pick through. Join your local permaculture group.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,511
    Likes Received:
    690
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Here's another video from an extensive series about a family who raise chickens for eggs and compost to grow veg to sell.
    Plus they make enough compost for all their own extensive home garden needs.
    I'm not suggesting you go this big and in Australia you won't be legally able to get the food scraps, but you might get enough from yours and friends kitchen scraps to feed as many as six chooks. Then you can give back some eggs to those who provide kitchen scraps for your chooks while benefiting from all that manure and biological action.

    But this system works although it does involve work and a fair degree of dedication.
    At the end he shows young seedlings growing in heaps of fresh raw compost. No digging in the soil involved! Although you do have to use the big hay fork to turn the compost but that's easy.



    Another thing to do once you have got the hang of caring for some chooks is to get a few rescue ex layers either from a cage battery or from free range. They cost very little or are free. But they will lay good sized eggs for you for another year or 2 after moulting and will give you so much joy.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
    • Like Like x 1
  4. DTK

    DTK Active Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2019
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    Brisbane (SW suburbs)
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    WOW ClissAT, another two very helpful posts. This is why I joined this forum; to benefit from (and hopefully one day contribute to) a wonderful gardening community. I am currently on the XPT from Sydney to Brisbane and really enjoying reading SSC posts. Amazing! Thank you, all!!
     
    • Love it! Love it! x 1
  5. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,511
    Likes Received:
    690
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Thanks for the vote of confidence, DTK! You made my day!
    Being quite poorly now and struggling with my own garden these days, its important to me that I pass on what I know.
    Getting all this information that's stored in my head into open source data is my aim and will hopefully be available in perpetuity.

    I feel we as a nation and as a race on this earth are currently facing a full-on change of use for the earth. Those who are proactive enough to get out of the bigger populated centers and get their own food production happening will be the survivors. My only contribution will be this information I leave behind.

    Re the XPT, my cousin was one of the first drivers back when it only went from Melbourne to Sydney. He lived in Albury-Wodonga so could drive either direction or maybe they told him he had to live there.
     
    • Like Like x 1
Loading...

Share This Page