We are moving to a large new property about a week before our last frost date, and will want to set up our new veggie garden first thing. It’s got acres of sod and we don’t know much about the soil yet except that it must be relatively decent as the grass, trees, etc are very healthy. Looking to put in a 700-1,000 sq ft garden this year. Since we’re moving, we didn’t start seeds so will be buying a fair amount of transplants and direct sowing everything we can. How would you go about building this garden?
Since we’ll have a ton of cardboard at our disposal from moving, I’m thinking of experimenting with lasagna-style beds. We’ve got lots of chicken and donkey manure as well. Thinking of mowing grass, covering with cardboard, then manure, then straw, then a top layer of compost for planting. My concern about these type of unframed/ mounded beds is erosion, especially with direct sowing seeds.
I’d like to avoid digging up the sod if possible, although we are considering a double dig method where we’d flip the sod onto itself. Also considering some hugel beds, but will we be able to plant in those right away? I admit I love the look of good old-fashioned wood-sided raised beds, but the cost of lumber for a garden this size is prohibitive.
It would depend on what grass is there. In my area, bermuda might necessitate the cardboard. Anything else and i would just till in 4" of manure/compost and plant it, then keep a light grass/hay mulch on it for the season.
If you are going to mow the grass short, only do it the width of your rows, leaving the grass between rows (the width of your lawn mower) makes already covered pathways, keeps more moisture in the soil for your plants to use.
This will also allow you to use your cardboard to simply cover the actual row, or you can simply cut the row grass short and lay on a thick layer of composted manure and plant directly into that.
If you do use the cardboard, you will be punching through it so the plant roots can go deeper into the soil, otherwise they will run across the top of the cardboard (shallow rooting = more watering).
The way we build our raised beds is one at a time, we have had to move to using concrete blocks for a permanent water stop/ diverter setup and to keep the dogs and donkey out of the gardens.
These beds will also keep the moles from traveling into our raised beds. By only purchasing the blocks for a single 2 foot by 30 foot bed we can afford to put in a long lasting garden space and it will be there forever, it is also easy to sit on the blocks for back breaking work in the garden space.
We use short pieces of 2x8 as moveable benches.
The other good method for making beds in lawn areas is to use string to lay out the individual beds then use a spade to cut through the roots of the sod, roll it up and flip it over and lay the green side down in the trench.
This method works well too, but it is a lot more work to get a bed ready to use this way.
I always try to do a no till/ no dig method when ever possible, it keeps all our microbiome in tact and that means I'm planting in a thriving micro world that will help my plants grow fast and strong.