First (real) Garden

cassbaronMarch 25, 2014

Wow, i have a ton of questions and i have been reading and researching for days! I want to do good by this little garden and want to stay in the realm of "organic" and old fashioned. I want to use knowledge, more so than technology. The old ways arent always the good ways, so i hope to incorporate all that is good and leave out all the wrong stuff we have been taught all these years! The concept of Back To Eden guys garden has me intrigued.

The first thing i did, about a week ago is picked a garden spot, length is east to west, 50 feet long and exactly 18 feet wide. Was previously grass and weeds or a typical country yard, lol. I would consider it full fun tho we have a couple cratemyrtles near by that are 15' tall or so. The next thing i did was fetch 80 cubic feet of sawdust from a cabinet shop i used to work at. The sawdust is kiln dried lumber for cabinetry. Mostly maple, very little poplar and very little oak. The consistency is from really fine sanded particles to big fluffy shavings. I lightly watered it down to keep it from blowing and make better contact with the grass i hoped to kill. Maybe a half inch worth of water or a bit less.

The next thing i did was get anxious and decided to till this stuff into the garden spot. I started deep, about 10" and tilled nice and slow to gradually grind the grass and roots in hopes of killing it off with just a couple of tilling a couple weeks apart. We then got an inch of rain over night. (YAY) Then i checked the soil... It was still very nice and fluffy, a terrific texture as compared to typical potting soil in a bag... only slightly more fluffy. Didnt clump at all when squeezed or stepped on.

Then! Then i read about adding wood chips and sawdust to the garden! DUH! But before everyone freaks out, these arent green wood fibers. This is kiln dried shavings. So im not real worried about loss of nitrogen...

Then! Then i was told by everyone i asked, to get a soil test sent off. So today i will get the soil test sent off.

I want to do veggies mostly in this plot. ANd i plan to till another spot for melons and pumpkins, another spot for strawberries and possibly another spot for ?? i have plenty of room. and some spots that would be less than full sun all day.

I have access to cow manure, but i have yet to ask about "grazon"... or how he treats his hay field. i know he uses mineral tubs and some salt blocks. I will inquire much deeper before trucking it home. Any particular questions i should ask?

Also, i want to mulch to hold in soil moisture and help with weeds. I have access to more kiln dried shavings and a nice wooded spot that is just covered in nice clean leaves from the fall. Should i use some of both? i have a yard i mow next door also where a spot alway grows thick and i end up with thick clippings after mowing.

Southern yellow pine needles are easy to find around these parts also. Are they good for mulch?

The first few yearsi plan to till in my mulches at the end of the growing season, maybe plant a winter cover crop and till it in also in the spring. Then i hope to have enough compost and mulch to do a similar garden as the Back to Eden video i seen... where its no till. Tho i enjoy tilling very much. But god doesnt really have to work on tillers either does he? "The covering" is actually what i am after i recon... where watering isnt a big issue.

I have a ton of seed started, as i though i was getting some things into the ground too late already... but local folks say they dont pant here until april and may.... soooo.... what do i do now? We have frosts as late as the end of april some years. Can i slow down these little sprouts for a month or so? They did their lil job so well, i hate to lose them.

BTW, i am 37, self employed, construction and carpentry all my life... i have alot of supplies and friends with in easy reach... So... anything is possible. I just might build a green house today from old storm doors. I think i have almost a dozen.... The only thing i am not good at is.... PATIENCE!!!! LOL! Lord help me! Thank you all. Sorry so stinkin long.

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Cass, I am a woodworker and builder as well, as it happens. I started gardening seriously in 1997, fall time.

Unfortunately dried wood, especially any rot-resistant species, makes a poor additive to soil. Green wood in fact breaks down much faster, that is why the "wood chips" from landscapers during the growing season will break down pretty fast, with all that sap and green matter in there. Woody stuff in general takes a long time to break down as compared to grassy material. If you have heavy soil you can use a lot more of it than if you have sandy soil. In any case 80 cu ft of maple dust and shavings over the plot that size shouldn't do much harm, short term (but definitely add some kind of rapidly-available fertility at planting time), and of course long term goes to carbon in the soil. In future it is probably better to stockpile such materials in a shady area for a few years and then add to soil, and always with some fertility as well: compost/tea, manure/tea, saved urine, etc.

Good luck, don't over think stuff, everything will be fine, but grass and leaves are much better than wood.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 9:27AM
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Awesome, Thank you and i will certainly go for the leaves and grass for mulch in that event. Im anxious to see the soil test also. Cant wait to till again. Me and the tiller are friends for life. Brings back good memories of my grandad.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 11:11AM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

Sawdust/wood shavings are good as part of a mixture, either for mulch or composting. I use grass clippings, leaves and sawdust (if I have it), mix well on a tarp and either fill the compost bin or use for mulch in the hot summer. As a mulch it will break down and feed the soil since it's a green-brown mix.

Keep an eye on your garden for nitrogen deficiency and be ready to add some N in the form of urea or high-N lawn fert. Your soil test will tell you whether you need P and K, if those are very low you can use some 12-12-12 to boost all of them. I don't use a lot of fertilizer but when you're in a pinch, it comes in handy.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 12:12PM
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Agreed, and if you don't want to use synthetic salt fertilizers then cheap-cheap or the like will do the trick.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 1:06PM
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