Garden Preparations: Phase One

Our plan is to turn the front pasture, where the previous owners turned out their horses, into our future garden. Unfortunately, horses are heavy animals, and the soil here is mostly clay… so the future garden is currently a hard packed clay field, with a special circle around it where the horse was lunged on a very regular basis (regular as in, you can see the circle from satellite photos from the last 15 years or so). So the first phase of a successful garden is to try to add some dead plant material and some less compacted soil. We’ll be using a sheet mulch approach for the first year, to try to beat down the existing grass, and to add as much new soil materials as possible.

To try to make it maneagable, since we’re upgrading from a small deck to a very large garden, we’ll only be gardening in half the field this year. The rest will be sown with a green manure of mixed clover and radish seeds, in an effort to passively improve the soil.

We started by spreading a layer of bedding from an old stall in the barn – mostly straw, and goat poop.
Step One: first mulch layer laid out over the half of the field that will be our garden in 2012.

Step Two: cardboard boxes (leftovers from moving, how convenient) laid out over the straw.

Step Three: local mushroom compost (really local – the farm is less than 2 miles from us!) laid out 3-6″ deep on top of the cardboard.

Once this year’s garden area is covered, we’ll leave it until spring!