New, from-scratch garden... oh, the glory!
After a few years of being consigned to growing in buckets stacked on wooden wine boxes in Southern California heat, I am back to living in Atlanta. I have rented a part of a duplex, and I just about danced a jig when my neighbor pointed out the area behind the dog fence - it is part of the property, and I can use it to garden! Hallelujah!
... ok, reality check.
I've never done a garden from scratch. I'll take photos and post of the area, but half the area is trees. It's on the top of a slope with completely unobstructed light from the southwest. The area is uneven, and my neighbor said that the landscape guys have spent years just blowing all the leaves over the fence and letting them stack up. Same for grass clippings.
Boy, she wasn't kidding. I went around the fence and sank in to almost my knees. Most of the area is covered by 8-10" of leaf litter. That is, what doesn't have pretty wild snapdragons and violets growing over it. Those areas have 10" of growth, and all the leaf litter under that. O_O
Then, I found out about the kudzu. I could Tarzan around like a crazy lady on all these vines. Thank goodness the neighbor slashed a bunch of it last year! But the cleanup needed is heavy, and the trash folks still haven't picked up the construction trash off the curb that was here before I moved in... in November. I can't say that they'll bother to pick up landscape trash, and I'm not sure what to do with all the vines. There will be a LOT of them. I have encountered quite a few snaking under all that leaf litter.
There's a bunch of trash in and amongst all of this (including a full and unopened can of schlitz malt liquor). If anyone needs any faux-stone house covering, I found a stack of it... in the dirt. I managed to clear a 3X3 area of leaf litter down to the dirt, and for my pains, I have a 3-foot-high stack of litter and weeds, a pile of kudzu vines, and a few hundred faux stones in a big stack. I also have the knowledge that I don't know how big this sheet of rusted tin is that I uncovered a corner of. And I'm staring down the barrel of that pile of broken concrete in the southwest corner.
The great news: FANTASTIC soil. It's gorgeous and loamy and earthwormy and black! Not like the usual red clay in these parts. Must be why the kudzu likes it.
I'm thinking I have about a 20'X40' usable vegetable garden area, with some of it needing to be raised bed. The SW corner looks to have been built up with old concrete blocks to level the lot - everyone else's yards are much lower. I'm thinking that the rocks/blocks might be a problem, so I'm considering phloxing the incline to death for looks and leaving it be.
Under the trees, I might have some play with flowers or shade lovers. I'm definitely putting a table out there! It's pretty and quiet with a nice skyline view. It would be a perfect place for a pond or waterfall, but I'm not putting that much into a rental. Maybe a koi barrel, but that's way down the line. Vegetable growing is my priority.
So, does anyone have any thoughts about the best non-machine, hand-tools methods for clearing this area? Any suggestions on dumping landscape debris? Any thing a first-timer should look out for? Any warnings about placing beds? Kudzu-annihilating techniques (I stay organic, and am not afraid of hard labor)?
One thing I know for sure: looks like I need a wheelbarrow and BIG compost piles...
I'll get some photos and maybe a planogram posted soon.