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Prepare new organic veg plot from agricultural field


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endaman
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:47 pm    Post subject: Prepare new organic veg plot from agricultural field Reply with quote

HI,

I want to convert a small plot in a field into an organic veg garden. I have fenced off 7 m by 15 m. The field had sheep and cattle up until now. I am wondering what to do next. My guess is turn the soil right over to a dept of 9 inches to kill off the grass. Is this the best thing to do or should I cover the grass and let the grass die off over the winter. Any advise for me. Most of all I do not want to pour chemicals on it. This is in the west of Ireland.

Thanks,
-E
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The Garden Shop
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Flame weeding is an organic way to kill off weeds

Organic production encourages the practice of minimum soil disturbance, so deep cultivation may not be the best start.

However i'm curious to hear what others think!

Good luck with the project.
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endaman
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will learn some more about flaming the grass and weeds but not sure yet about that. I was wondering if covering it with cardboard and other stuff over the winter is useful or other approaches to getting the weeds out.

Thanks,
-E
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tippben
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, definitely cover the ground. You can use flame guns, or even boiling water, but grass is a very tenacious weed. I expect there are other things, like creeping buttercup there too. Light exclusion is an effective way of weed control. Cardboard is good, but you'll need a double layer, weighted down with stones or similar. Use whatever you have to hand, but remember that plastic is not permeable, and won't let the soil breathe. It's a lot better than nothing though!

I'd also dig a couple of test pits, to see how much topsoil (the dark layer at the top) you have. If the land has been cultivated using tractors, rollers etc. you'll probably have a fair bit of compaction, which needs breaking up with a spade and fork. Don't mix the topsoil with the lighter coloured subsoil.

I'd actually strip off the turf, and make a stack, green side to green side, then cover the lot with light excluding material. That'll rot down to really good soil. Then cover the ground, after addressing any compaction. If you can incorporate some well rotted manure/compost at the same time, even better!
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endaman
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tippben wrote:

I'd actually strip off the turf, and make a stack, green side to green side, then cover the lot with light excluding material. That'll rot down to really good soil. Then cover the ground, after addressing any compaction. If you can incorporate some well rotted manure/compost at the same time, even better!


This is great info thanks, I like the approach you would take stripping the turf. Are you saying to just strip the very top soil off, how deep should I go?

Regarding the flame gun if I go for that, are they usually rentable in plant hire's?

-E
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Greengage
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting people suggesting a flame gun the last time I suggested that People said it would not kill perennial weeds any I was right, thats the rant or hissy fit.
I would agree about reomving the top layer and stacking it to use later when it rots down.
Organic mmmm do you know you can spray the ground with Glyphosphate to kill off the weeds and two years later you can get organic certification.
Aside from that I would cover the ground with Carpet or cardboard over the winter in the spring I would till the soil but dont be surprised by the amount of weeds that grow because there would be a large seed bank in the ground and once they get light away they will grow,
You mention cattle and sheep were on the ground Were the given veteriniry products if so they would have been washed of or urinated or otherwise deposited on the ground what effects would they have on your organic status.
Check out henry doubleday reseaech here http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/
Good luck Organic farming is a mine field (Bet people wont like me saying that)
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The Garden Shop
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you think the carpet /cover would be enough to kill of the roots scutch grass ?
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Greengage
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

is this a test
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The Garden Shop
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

its a genuine question Greenage (although a badly phrased one) haha.

its just that I think that scutch grass would still be a problem even after covering over the ground for the winter
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Greengage
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yes I agree carpet probably would not kill it.
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tippben
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Turf stripping. Cut a square with a spade and lift it off in manageable pieces. The usual depth is about three inches. It'll lift off easily, and once you have the first bit off, you have a visible edge, and it gets easier.

Flame guns. Run on paraffin/kerosene (the big ones), or propane. Both will leave a residue in your soil. Up to you. You'll need to do it several times to be effective on pasture, at your own expense in buying fossil fuels.

Whatever you use to cover the ground, it won't kill all of the grass or other weeds. You will have to dig the survivors out manually. I did opt for glyphosate, and organic cultivation afterwards, because it only took one hit, and subsequent careful management, rather than several years of no food to speak of, plus constant weeding.

As far as I know, the soil association certification demands five years without any chemical inputs. Not only does that include pesticides and livestock vetinary treatments, but also common grass fertilizers, which have almost certainly been used on your site. I can't call my crops "Organic", but I am allowed to say that they are "organically grown". All I can say, is do your best with it, and may you have a frosty winter and a mild spring!

Oh, those inch long brown maggots that you'll find are Leatherjackets (Crane Fly/Daddy Long Legs larvae). They thrive in grassland, and eat plant roots. Squash them. Humanely and quickly.
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endaman
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So thanks for all the information.

Here is what I plan to do. I am going to dig off the top soil to about 3 inches and pile in the corner the way it will rot and make compost, I will cover this. I will probably cover the area with cardbard then and leave over the winter. I plan to start removing the topsil this weekend, is this a good time or should I leave it a while longer?

I am not too worried about organic certification right now but just want to keep it as chemical free as possible. Maybe look into certification down the line provided I manage to actually have some success.
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Sunflower
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi endamn,

have your work cut out for you there!
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endaman
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sunflower wrote:
Hi endamn,

have your work cut out for you there!


I might try and get a few helpers involved!
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Gautama
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Prepare new organic veg plot from agricultural field Reply with quote

endaman wrote:
... should I cover the grass and let the grass die off over the winter.

-E


This is what I've done in the past. Get a roll of heavy black or dark plastic from a builders providers. Not the permeable stuff/weaved fabric.

It blocks the light, the grass, etc, dies or at least weakens. Then the roots die or weaken.
By the spring you'll have little foliage on the surface, weak roots so the soil is easy to dig. Also, the soil will be relatively drier so you can work it without compaction, etc. Save you a lot of elbowgrease.
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