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Question for our gardeners

 
 
chai2
 
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 09:14 am
ok.
It's early November, and I want to prepare a long stretch of ground along the East side of my house, for planting in the Spring.

There is a house right next door to our East, so this swatch of land gets little sun. Just a few hours when the sun is at its highest. I'm saying this to address what I'm going to say below.

Right now it's clay, and nothing has been planted there for years. There's just various weeds or bare soil. Wally has gone there in the past and has put Round Up on the weeds, keeping them down. So....I know the ground is poisoned.

My thoughts are that I'd like to have our hired man come out here now, beginning of November and dig up 6 inches to a foot of the clay, and dispose of it. Then, have him lay out clear plastic sheets over the area, and leave it over Winter.

Come Spring, after removing the plastic we'll lay down a few feet of good soil, to plant appropriate ground cover and plants for the sun conditions.

My main question/concern is that since the weather will be cool/cold until Spring, how long into the Spring would we need to leave the clear plastic down to make sure the ground is cleared of the seeds/weeds etc?

I'd really like to start the digging and plastic covering now, to avoid having to rush this is the Spring.

Are my thoughts valid?
 
View best answer, chosen by chai2
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 09:19 am
@chai2,
what are you gonna plant there?

if you mulch after you plant, I don't think it would matter when you did it...
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 09:19 am
Can you put in a raised bed along the east side? We've used railroad ties or six-by-sixes to establish a border. Lay at least 4 layers of newspaper over the ground to finish killing off any weeds and pour in 4-6" of good soil, depending on what you want to grow. Hardly anything needs a root system that goes deeper than 6". I deal with limited sun because of the tree canopy. I have great luck with most herbs interspersed with shade-loving flowers. You can make an eatable garden using herbs and eatable flowers like pansies and nasturtiums.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  3  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 09:25 am
Roundup breaks down in the soil.

http://www.ehow.com/how-does_5436386_long-roundup-stay-soil.html

See somewhere around the third paragraph.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 09:32 am
Rocky/JPB

I really don't have any concern over What I'll plant there....I figure that out.

My question is getting rid of the really bad clay ground that has horrible drainage, and is now poisoned, and full of weeds, and their seeds.

I want to start with good clean ground.

That's why I wanted to get rid of some of the top clay and replace with good soil.

since the clay is growing weeds, as has been forever, my thoughts were to get rid of as much of it as possible.

Mostly I guess my question was whether laying down clear plastic over the Winter, and into the Spring would help to rid the ground of weeds growing up from seed.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 09:35 am
@chai2,
edit....in fact, I'm looking forward to having plants that like shade. The rest of my garden is in full sun all summer long, and battle to find plants that survive the heat and sun, that aren't cactus.

Since the weather has cooled, the front of my house is growing with a vengeance.

Let's stick with the poisened soil, plastic sheeting question for now though.
jcboy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 09:48 am
@chai2,
I always wanted to plant a garden and grow some fresh veggies but having three dogs it will never happen.
chai2
 
  2  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 10:19 am
@jcboy,
Now that I can tell you you can do in containers.

I have in the front of my house a raised sandstone planter. Last year I planted patio tomatoes, patio cucumbers and green peppers. They all did well.

In fact, some of the seeds from the tomatoes sprouted this year from the ground in the regular part of the garden, and I just let one of them go ahead and grow. It sprouted the cutest little tomatoes, about marble size, that were yummy. I paid no attention to the plant, but it grew hundreds of the little things.

If you can plant them higher in a planter or container, you can have a nice yield. I especially enjoyed the cucumbers.
jcboy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 10:39 am
@chai2,
That’s a good idea. I’m going to look into a few, maybe plant some tomatoes, green beans etc.

You know I had a friend that grew green beans; only they were purple, turned green after you cooked them. Those were the best green beans I ever had!
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 10:53 am
@chai2,
jpb's advice was best

layers and layers of newspaper will deal with the weeds - clean out what is there now - make sure the surface is as clean of weeds and seeds as you can get it - boiling water does pretty well for getting rid of most weeds - then those layers of newspaper - they'll become a good base for the mix of clay/sand/soil/compost you'll start to create

there's no great upside to removing the clay

look into native plants/herbs for the area - the less you have to change the soil the better your success - the less watering you need to do the better
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 10:53 am
@chai2,
Removing the clay is a good shortcut to quickly obtain a workable garden soil. You could also tame the clay by adding sandy compost and mixing it into the clay.

As for the plastic, you will have better success with a black plastic rather than the clear plastic. Weeds will continue to germinate with the available sunlight a clear plastic gives.

To be completely effective, the black plastic should be in place for at least a year to kill off annual and perennial weed seeds as well as their adult root systems. You can cover it with mulch during that year to make it more eye appealing.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  3  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 10:54 am
@chai2,
chai2 wrote:
Since the weather has cooled, the front of my house is growing with a vengeance.


sounds like you've picked plants for a different basic climate
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 10:55 am
@chai2,
chai2 wrote:
Let's stick with the poisened soil, plastic sheeting question for now though.


1. the soil is not permanently poisoned (separately - tell Wally to back off on the round-up, it's a silly, temporary fix that often ends up making things worse)

2. no to plastic sheeting - yes to layers of newspaper (newsprint if you can find a cheap source)
PUNKEY
 
  2  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 11:02 am
Yes to the newspapers and to the raised bed.

No to clear plastic or any kind of plastic. I don't know how many times i have had to weed for customers only to discover plastic or other kinds of barrier screens just a new inches below the soil line.
ehBeth
 
  3  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 11:04 am
@jcboy,
jcboy wrote:

I always wanted to plant a garden and grow some fresh veggies but having three dogs it will never happen.


1. train the dogs to stay out of your garden

2. work in the garden with the dogs around you

3. train the dogs


(there are often good articles in gardening mags on how to deal with the dog/garden question)


4. if you have a female dog, 100% train her to pee in only one corner of the yard - give her a space to use - best if it's like a sandbox kind of area you can hose down. Female dog urine is deadly to lawns, male dog urine isn't really a problem (but they still need to know they have a designated peeing zone).

5. train the dogs about how to behave around the garden (i.e. not in the garden)
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  2  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 11:04 am
@ehBeth,
I agree with the newspaper suggestion for two reasons.

It will eventually decay and become part of your soil and won't require the second step of having to remove all the mulch from on top of it in order to remove the plastic.
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 11:07 am
@PUNKEY,
The plastic is wicked isn't it. Landscape fabric isn't too bad as it starts to fall apart over time and you can slice into it to plant, but plastic just ends up causing more problems.
0 Replies
 
jcboy
 
  2  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 11:08 am
@Butrflynet,
You know at our old house the people that owned it before me used this black plastic all around the house and along the fence then they planted over it. What a pain in the butt that was! A year later I was still pulling that plastic up, it was a mess!

Some childish clown keeps going around and knocking down everyones posts, I bumped them back up Evil or Very Mad
Butrflynet
 
  2  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 11:14 am
@jcboy,
Yep, we have the same problem in the gardens here around BBB's house. In the front yard where there is a slope, the soil on top of the landscape fabric gradually slides down to the sidewalk and has to be shoveled back up to the top of the slope every few years.

My next big gardening project is to remove all that landscaping fabric and build some kind of retaining structure to help hold back the soil.
chai2
 
  2  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2012 11:25 am
I'm not sure if I was entirely clear in my first post.

#1, I have no intent to leave the plastic there. I would remove it before I laid down new soil.

#2 I said clear plastic because per several gardening sites, clear plastic is a better alternative than black.

#3 All the plants in the front of my house (not the subject of this thread) were chosen specifically for their heat/sun tolerance. Everything suffers here in the summer, and short of planting cactus, which I dislike, it's just the nature of where I live that if you don't happen to have a large tree to shade your area, there's just going to be some stunted growth.

Wally is not roundupping any more.

I don't want a raised bed with railroad ties, or other material. It wouldn't be proper for the area. My need is to have good ground.
The ground that is there has never, and I mean never, for like a hundred plus years literally, been amended, or touched.
The clay ground that is there now is evil. Not fertile, hard as cement, unable to grow anything but straggly weeds, and needs to be removed. Period....some of that ground needs to be rototilled to loosen it, shoveled up and carted off. There isn't any possibility that anything worthwhile will ever, ever grow in it.

I'm fine with the cardboard solution, if that the best.

Meaning placing cardboard in the depression created by digging up the horrible clay there, laying good fertile soil on the top, and planting on that.

I would prefer to have the clay dug up now, as it would give a man some paying work to do, and would be one more thing out of the way while we have the extra cash right now to pay someone. I have no desire or need to rototill or dig up hard ground myself.
When I have the ground removed, I figured it would be a good idea to lay the clear plastic over it until Spring, to avoid anything else growing up in it from now until planting time. It's warm enough here that if the clay is dug up now, there will be stuff growing there by Spring....creating more work.

So, I guess to rephrase....

Would it be ok to.....

1. Dig up the nastiness that is there (that part is a given)
2. Lay down plastic to inhibit growth until Spring
3. Remove the plastic in the Spring, exposing ground that has no weeds growing in it.
4. Placing cardboard in the area, then laying down a few feet of good soil and growing in that.

My primary question is in #3.....How long into the Spring should I leave the plastic down, to ensure what weed seeds have been cooked. Or does it not make a difference because not enough heat would build up?
 

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