overgrown raised beds

drizzo42(5)June 2, 2014

I bought a house recently and it has several raised beds. I've never grown vegetables before but decided to try this year. The beds are overgrown and I've attached a picture of all the stuff I pulled out of one bed. How thorough do I need to be in cleaning it up. I could imagine spending quite a while getting all the roots and debris our. If I've removed all the big and medium stuff and turned up the soil 10-12" down, is that good enough or do I need to be extremely thorough to keep things from growing back that might impact the garden?

Thanks for your help from a newbie.

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

A picture of the bed would be useful, so we can see the state of the soil and whether there are any more weeds in there. Time spent on preparation is time well spent. Debris is not a problem really as long as it is dead debris. But you need to remove every piece of weed root for perennial weeds such as bindweed and couch grass or they will be with you for ever. All that stuff you have pulled out is a great start for a compost heap.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 11:21AM
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drizzo42(5)

I was asked to show a picture of the bed as well. Here it is...

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 12:23PM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

That looks pretty good. What do you want to grow? You could lay down weed barrier and plant big things (tomatoes, squashes) through slits. It would be an easy and productive garden.

Is It Good to Put a Weed Barrier in a Vegetable Garden?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 12:48PM
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klem1

The soil looks excellent. Having pulled what you have and turning the soil is about all that you can do for now. I would plant it as is and pull weeds as they show up. Mulching will prevent a lot of weeds and retain moisture.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 12:57PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Yes - it looks good. I think you might still have a smidgeon of Oxalis in there (the trefoil leaves). Get that out carefully and make sure you have all the little bulbils or it will romp all over your bed.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 1:46PM
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dab07

Drizz,

You're lucky to inherit these garden beds!

If I were you I'd just plant in it and then put about 3" of mulch on top. The mulch will keep most weed seeds from germinating, and is an all around great thing for your garden. Straw is good, but weedy, unless you get the bagged stuff, which is expensive. A great mulch is shredded leaves, which you can make by mowing leaves.

I wouldn't even dig it. The soil looks nice and loose. In my 30 years of vegetable gardening I've gone from double digging, to just turning over, to just loosening (but not turning) the soil with a broadfork (in several different gardens as I've moved.) Now I'm not even doing that. It's taken me a long time to come around to this practice. I was skeptical, since digging the soil before planting is such a prevalent notion it seemed weird even to question it! And, my soil is rocky and clayey. (There's a great little book called Weedless Gardening that lays out the principles involved.) You put 1" of compost on top, without mixing it in, in the fall (now would be ok too), and that serves as mulch and nutrition. I'm still a little skeptical I guess, because I still put shredded leaves on top of that, mostly to retain moisture.

Turning over the soil will definitely bring up a bloom of weeds, whose seeds have been buried and waiting for sun.

Since you don't know how fertile the soil is, you might sprinkle some slow releasing sources of nutrition, such as blood meal or soybean meal for N, bone meal or rock phosphate for P, and Kelp or greensand for K. But chances are an inch of good compost on top will provide all you need.

But this is more than you asked for. Good luck with your garden!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 6:05PM
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drizzo42(5)

Thank you all for taking the time to educate me and share your ideas.

egganddart49 - unfortunately, I've already turned up the soil and given the weeds the light of day. I was thinking that sifting it through a wire mesh (not too small) could get more of those stringy weeds and rocks. Is there any reason not to do that before adding the compost and planting?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 10:06AM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

I think the Oxalis will also have gifted you with many tiny, tiny, seeds.

The commonality I see in advice is that you would benefit from a weed barrier of some kind, either a full on sheet, or newspaper/cardboard under mulch, or mulch alone.

That will help you with stragglers of all kinds, bulbils and seeds alike.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 10:37AM
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dab07

Unless there are some unusually tenacious weed roots still in there just plant and mulch. That'll keep most weeds down. Some will inevitably pop through but it should be minimal. I don't know of any weed that can't be eradicated by smothering or persistent yanking. Depending on the mulch, 1-3" is enough. Unless the rocks are big or really in the way you can just leave 'em. If they're bothering you, take them out, but I don't think they do any harm.

Aside from weed suppression. an organic mulch keeps the soil from drying out and eroding, modifies soil temperature, encourages worms, and adds nutrition as it decomposes. It's a great thing.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 11:34PM
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toxcrusadr

The reason everyone is talking about perennial weeds is that they can sprout out of the roots, but for any other type of plant, it's OK to leave dead roots in the ground to decompose. In heavy soils (which it does not appear you have here) they leave channels which make porosity in the soil.

I once planted a new tree right next to the stump of an old one, and it's done very well. We didn't grind the stump or anything. The rotting roots are like a sponge to soak up water and let it out slowly.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 1:11PM
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