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Old October 5, 2018   #1
rhines81
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Default Breaking new ground

I haven't been on this site for a while. My car got rear-ended the day after Memorial Day and I suffered bad whiplash for the next few months (still only about 85%, but much better). The weekend following I would have been transplanting and seeding my raised beds, but that never happened and my started plants just rotted away in their containers.

Anyhow, fast forward to present day... I ran across a great deal on some "prime" farmland nearby and jumped on it. I should be closing by the end of next week. Waiting on the current owners to remove old tires and other trash and to get the well water tested.

I'd like to turn about a 1/8 acre (~100' x 50') into a garden area for 2019 and then expand later. The well and electric are about 500 feet away from where I plan to place the garden so that might be a bit of a hindrance. The main concern is prepping the ground this Fall for next year's garden.

I've heard that if you can till in the grass before it goes dormant, then it will only require another tilling in the Spring and it should remain mostly grass/weed free opposed to tilling in the grass only in the Spring and fighting the regrowth all season. Any of that true? Should I just wait until Spring, cover it up for a couple weeks, then till ... I just don't want to be fighting regrowth next year. The bad news is that we will probably get our first frost soon and it will be too late to get the first tilling done (if that part of what I heard is true). Or maybe just plow the area in the Spring, remove the grass/weeds and then till. Any advice there? Tractors and attachments will also come into play - it seems a 25hp PTO with attachments might be in order instead of separate machines for different tasks (log splitting, tilling, post hole digging, etc...)
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Old October 5, 2018   #2
Rajun Gardener
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Congratz!!!

If you plan on buying a tractor then your garden will grow bigger than 1/8th acre. They make gardening a breeze and too easy to put another row in within a few hours. I wouldn't waste money on a disc, go with a tiller from the start and you'll be glad you did. I would get a ripper/middle buster strong enough to use to trench water and power to the garden. Just run it a few times to make a ditch, till over it and use hippers to cover the ditch then pack it down with the tractor. Besides a tiller, middle buster(to make furrows to plant seeds, dig potatoes/trenches) and hippers(to make rows) you might want a set of cultivators for weeds. Check into plant a row skip a row, that makes it easy to tend plants and you can either run the tiller between rows or let the grass grow and mow it. Make it wide enough to fit the tractor or a gold cart to make picking easy.

As far the weeds, you're gonna have some for a few years. Tilling will bring up new seeds and it's a constant battle. They best thing to do is till and let the seeds sprout and grow a little then till again. Try to do this as often as possible and eventually you'll get them knocked back.

Do research on cover crops too. They help building the soil and you might be able to get the garden planted with a fast growing crop now.


Just some things to consider. I know you'll have a blast and learn lots along the way. keep us up to date on your progress..
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Old October 5, 2018   #3
brownrexx
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I have a garden about that size and it is about 200' from the house but it is slightly downhill so I have a 330 gallon tote which collects rainwater from the house roof. It attaches to a hose which I ran to the garden by just laying it on top of the ground. By the end of the first summer the grass had grown over the hose to the point that we can mow right over it and you can not see it.

The long white pipe from the tote is an overflow so that excess water does not pool at the foundation when we get hard rains.

I have a shorter hose right at the garden which I put away for the winter and the main hose is drained but stays buried.

The water comes out of the hose due to gravity but a small pump could be attached at the tote if I wanted.

I don't like to use my well water for watering the garden.
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Old October 5, 2018   #4
Worth1
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Well water is cold in the north.
needs heating.
Worth
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Old October 5, 2018   #5
rhines81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajun Gardener View Post
Congratz!!!

If you plan on buying a tractor then your garden will grow bigger than 1/8th acre. They make gardening a breeze and too easy to put another row in within a few hours. I wouldn't waste money on a disc, go with a tiller from the start and you'll be glad you did. I would get a ripper/middle buster strong enough to use to trench water and power to the garden. Just run it a few times to make a ditch, till over it and use hippers to cover the ditch then pack it down with the tractor. Besides a tiller, middle buster(to make furrows to plant seeds, dig potatoes/trenches) and hippers(to make rows) you might want a set of cultivators for weeds. Check into plant a row skip a row, that makes it easy to tend plants and you can either run the tiller between rows or let the grass grow and mow it. Make it wide enough to fit the tractor or a gold cart to make picking easy.
I do plan to grow it larger each year, but I doubt I will ever exceed 1/2 acre at least until I retire from the day job. Not planning on any trenching just yet as there will be some excavation and construction projects over the next year or so that could disturb any underground piping or wiring. I'm in no big hurry to get a house built there but it's in the plan. The 4 car garage comes first - just saying...

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As far the weeds, you're gonna have some for a few years. Tilling will bring up new seeds and it's a constant battle. They best thing to do is till and let the seeds sprout and grow a little then till again. Try to do this as often as possible and eventually you'll get them knocked back.
Was hoping if first tilled just before frost (which probably wont happen) and then again in the Spring if that might get save me at least half the battle of fighting the regrowth.

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Do research on cover crops too. They help building the soil and you might be able to get the garden planted with a fast growing crop now.
Unless the weather forecasters are wrong (never happens right?), I'll miss the boat by a couple weeks for planting any cover crop this year, but it's in the plan for next Fall.
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Old October 5, 2018   #6
Tormato
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Borrow Worth's flamethrower. It'll heat the well water and kill the weeds.


My guess is no matter what you do, you just might be fight fighting weeds next year. What's been laying dormant that you'll be churning up?
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Old October 5, 2018   #7
rhines81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brownrexx View Post
I have a garden about that size and it is about 200' from the house but it is slightly downhill so I have a 330 gallon tote which collects rainwater from the house roof. It attaches to a hose which I ran to the garden by just laying it on top of the ground. By the end of the first summer the grass had grown over the hose to the point that we can mow right over it and you can not see it.

The long white pipe from the tote is an overflow so that excess water does not pool at the foundation when we get hard rains.

I have a shorter hose right at the garden which I put away for the winter and the main hose is drained but stays buried.

The water comes out of the hose due to gravity but a small pump could be attached at the tote if I wanted.

I don't like to use my well water for watering the garden.
I hear you about using rainwater and I do plan to supplement with stored rainwater in the future, although this past Summer in PA we certainly didn't need much other than what Mother Nature dished out. Most people around here had major failures because of too much rain, but lets hope that was a fluke. I'm almost glad I didn't have a garden this year.

There is a 24x50 pavilion on the property that I could get 700 gallons or so per inch of rain from - but that is also around 500 ft from the planned garden area and would have to be pumped over too. A storage tank there might also be unsightly. I am planning to build a small green house and at least one small shed closer to the garden area and could definitely store rainwater from those. A few dedicated bulk water storage tanks will also be placed around the garden area along with solar powered pumps for irrigation. Might take a couple of years to put together the complete system I want but that's part of the fun.
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Old October 5, 2018   #8
rhines81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
Well water is cold in the north.
needs heating.
Worth
You are correct. I'll have storage tanks in the garden area and hopefully Mother Nature supplements that. There's a holding tank in the well house but that'll only last for a few minutes.
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Old October 5, 2018   #9
rhines81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tormato View Post
Borrow Worth's flamethrower. It'll heat the well water and kill the weeds.
I could also BBQ squirrels right in the trees!

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Originally Posted by Tormato View Post
My guess is no matter what you do, you just might be fight fighting weeds next year. What's been laying dormant that you'll be churning up?
I can only imagine what might be dormant, the land hasn't been farmed in over 30 years.
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Old October 5, 2018   #10
e.thad
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Corn gluten meal might be an option. It won't allow seedlings to live. It's effective for about 5 weeks. Once the season is over and the garden is cleared, I spread it on the soil. By early spring there are only a few weeds.

Not sure if this will be cost effective for an area your size. I got a big bag from an Amway in horse country over in Jersey and it was pretty inexpensive.
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Old October 5, 2018   #11
rhines81
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Corn gluten meal might be an option. It won't allow seedlings to live. It's effective for about 5 weeks. Once the season is over and the garden is cleared, I spread it on the soil. By early spring there are only a few weeds.

Not sure if this will be cost effective for an area your size. I got a big bag from an Amway in horse country over in Jersey and it was pretty inexpensive.
I base cost effectiveness by the amount of labor it takes to get rid of weeds, but from what I have heard is that unless you are someone that exclusively transplants started plants, corn gluten meal is not a good idea as it can affect the ability of seeds to germinate (which, yes it prevents weed seeds from germinating too). Maybe post season application like you suggest would not affect Spring seeds and only neutralize the weed/grass seed active in the ground after application (so, hmmm .... maybe it worth further investigation). Thanks for the input!

I found many different internet sources, one in particular is from Iowa State University which contains numerous links .. an important one to note is "Get The Real Thing", apparently most commonly sold Corn gluten meal is ineffective:
https://www.hort.iastate.edu/horticu...meal-research/

Last edited by rhines81; October 5, 2018 at 09:22 PM. Reason: Further invesstigation
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Old October 5, 2018   #12
greenthumbomaha
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Rhines, while you were recovering from the mishap, we had a few threads that mirror your situation. If you were not here for Pure Harvests discussion of silage tarps, they are epic! That worked famously for me, and it is not too late to get a tarp down or sheets of cardboard for winter coverage. I actually did both, tarped after the cardboard flew off in mid winter.


When spring came, I uncovered the tarp and the grass was dead but was I unable to trudge the roll of weed fabric uphill before planting into the area. Weeds, not grass, grew back. When summer winded down, the squash got pulled (mostly smashed, rotted, or cooked) straw was removed, the area got flamed. For large plants like tomatoes or peppers, it would be ready again without tilling. I have the area earmarked for garlic, so I am reluctantly hiring a tiller followed by laying weed fabric. I am getting too old to dig 300 holes in solid clay between the raindrops.



My plants are happy with well water, and they don't care if it is cold. If your well produces adequate uncontaminated water, I would think it would be superior to water accumulating contaminants off a roof. Can you run a farm tap from the well to the garden next spring?

With your projected size garden, you will be able to grow a variety of crops. It might be easier to think of it as a few different gardens - large upright plants such as tomatoes & beans, flat crops like watermelon or rows of potatoes, early delicate crops like greens, etc. I focus on prepping one area while the soil warms and gets prepared for the next section. Sort of a crisis management when you are working a real job.


Looking forward to see how your new digs develop !!!



- Lisa

Last edited by greenthumbomaha; October 5, 2018 at 07:34 PM. Reason: Flame Weeding Pros and Cons thread with before & after pics
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Old October 5, 2018   #13
cjp1953
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Farmers around here plant winter rye.It can be planted late fall as it will continue to grow come spring.Just till in weeks before planting.Check with local farmers and see what and how late they can plant around your area.
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Old October 5, 2018   #14
greenthumbomaha
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Farmers around here plant winter rye.It can be planted late fall as it will continue to grow come spring.Just till in weeks before planting.Check with local farmers and see what and how late they can plant around your area.

Good info for me as well. After the garlic harvest next July (fingers crossed with all the wet weather), the soil will need replenishment.


- Lisa
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Old October 5, 2018   #15
rhines81
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Originally Posted by greenthumbomaha View Post
Rhines, while you were recovering from the mishap, we had a few threads that mirror your situation. If you were not here for Pure Harvests discussion of silage tarps, they are epic! That worked famously for me, and it is not too late to get a tarp down or sheets of cardboard for winter coverage. I actually did both, tarped after the cardboard flew off in mid winter.
I will have to search for those threads but it seems to me that once the growth goes dormant then covering them over the Winter won't really have an effect. It would kill them off early Spring though. Unfortunately, I do not think the land will be officially mine for a couple more weeks until the sellers get the tires and trash removed, by then we will certainly be in heavy frost (sometimes we even get have several inches of snow by Halloween).

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My plants are happy with well water, and they don't care if it is cold. If your well produces adequate uncontaminated water, I would think it would be superior to water accumulating contaminants off a roof. Can you run a farm tap from the well to the garden next spring?
Yes I can certainly run water directly to the garden from the well but the well water is about 40-45 degF around here and the soil is slow to warm up, so holding tanks from the well water are a better idea for in-ground gardening - raised beds are not as much of an issue. I can see concern off of collecting rain water from a shingled roof, I might do that but it would be used for flowers and lawn, not garden. Rainwater collected from a greenhouse or fiberglass or metal roof would be fair game wherever needed.

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Originally Posted by greenthumbomaha View Post
With your projected size garden, you will be able to grow a variety of crops. It might be easier to think of it as a few different gardens - large upright plants such as tomatoes & beans, flat crops like watermelon or rows of potatoes, early delicate crops like greens, etc. I focus on prepping one area while the soil warms and gets prepared for the next section. Sort of a crisis management when you are working a real job.

Looking forward to see how your new digs develop !!!

- Lisa
Oh, this is something I can't wait for. I have always been sacrificing growing these vs. that and cutting back on this to grow that, etc.... Now I really won't have to. I am only talking about using an 1/8 of an acre on 8.5 acres of land (yes, room to grow and plenty of buffer). But I will hold myself back to what I believe I can manage, a mere 1/8 acre for now. I might dedicate an additional 1/8 acre in corn, which I don't really consider a "garden" plant - a field of its own. Maybe will also put in some strips across the road dedicated to a wildlife plot. A whole row of mixed melons and pumpkins will be awesome.

I was also thinking that since I posted about my accident and then getting the land in the same post ... I don't want anyone thinking that I got a settlement and got rich quick ... I have been saving my money and looking for land for the past few years, the two incidents are not related whatsoever and the only thing I got from the accident was a very sore back/neck and compensation for immediate medical bills (and my car fixed of course).

Last edited by rhines81; October 5, 2018 at 08:56 PM.
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