I rent a house with a nice little garden patch in the back yard. While it's not ideally situated from a permaculture perspective (it's about as far from the back door as you can get) ... I figure I might as well make the most of it. It's about 20'x30', there's a mature apple tree to the north, which overhangs part of it. According to the landlord, it's been an organic garden for at least 10 years. When we moved in last fall, the tenants said they hadn't touched it during the year they were there.
I wanted to do something with it last spring, and I did spend a couple days clearing part of it and digging a bed, but didn't follow through and finish the project. I'd like to do something with it this year.
Thing is, it's entirely overgrown with these ungodly 4' tall weeds with cast iron roots ... and strawberries. Last year we got a few quarts of berries out of it, but I'm not familiar with strawberries particularly so I don't know how to tell which sections of the vines are old enough to be dug out and which ones are new and will bear fruit.
I'm also not sure what the best approach is for dealing with the weeds. My initial thought is to bury the whole mess under thick layers of sheet mulch and plant on top of them, but they're very thick and tough, and I'm wondering if tilling them under before sheet mulching might keep them in check and give my veggies, herbs, and flowers a better root space.
In case you're curious, what I'd like to do with the plot is experiment with different combinations of companion plantings focusing on about a dozen of my family's favorite fruits and veggies. I had each of my step sons and my husband pick a fruit and veggie they liked, and we're going to plan around these.
What I'd love to hear from you guys is ... what should I do to prepare the plot for planting? I'm in Southeast Iowa which is a slightly warm zone 5. I've already started seeds indoors.
Thanks so much for any input!!!