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Dig a new garden by the grid method
Digging a new garden in the lawn can be done with more ease than you might imagine. Using your spade in a systematic manner is the key to best results. The grid method described here will kill the grass and make for easier digging. It will also do the least damage to earthworms and beneficial microbes.
1. First mark out the garden you wish to dig. You could do thid with a spray paint can or a series of sticks and string. Even the garden hose can be useful for describing curves.
Killing the grass before you dig can be helpful, but is not necessary when using the following easy-dig method. (If you feel the need to, methods of killing the grass are described at the end of this article.) It is best to dig your garden after autumn rains when the ground is softer and when you will feel comfortable about leaving the bed unplanted for a while over winter.
2. Start your digging process by cutting along one edge of the garden with the blade of your spade. Position the spade on the line then jump on it to cut through the grass. Now move the spade next to the first cut and continue in the same manner along the line.
3. Now the real digging begins. At one end of the line, cut a square with the blade of the spade (each side of the square being one blade width). Now, using your foot, dig deep to the depth of the blade, then lift out the earth square. Tip this square upside down into the hole you have made.
The roots of grass will now be exposed to the air and the leaves will be deep
down in the dark. The plant will not like this and will gradually die.
4. Continue systematically in the same manner along the edge of the garden.
The previous square will make the next square easy to dig. For the second and subsequent rows, cut three sides of a square up against the first row and turn over the clod. Continue in the same manner for the whole garden imagining it as a grid of squares throughout.
Now all the grass is upside down under the earth. The earthworms will make
their way to the bottom of the clods and eat into the grass leaves as they break down.
5. Spread a thick layer of compost or leaf mould over the top at this stage. Not only will this provide future food for your plants, it will also cut more light from the dying grass plants. Earthworms will love it and will help in the breaking down process.
6. Leave the garden fallow for at least three weeks. If the clods remain solid break them up by thrusting the spade up and down in vertical movements. Do not turn the clods. Even if you have dug this patch for flowers or shrubs, it can work wonders to plant an initial crop of potatoes. Not only will you have food to eat, but the potatoes will feed on the dying grass and break up the clods as they grow. Digging up potatoes is also a most pleasurable way of tilling your garden in preparation for another crop! Potatoes are big feeders though, so apply plenty of compost or leaf mould before your next crop.
How to kill grass before digging a garden
1 Use an organic herbicide spray.
2 Spread some black sheet plastic over the section to be dug. Weight it down with wood, rocks or bricks and leave for at least two weeks. The plastic will smother the grass and allow earthworms to naturalise the soil. In hot weather the period might be shorter as the plastic will absorb the suns' rays and burn the grass.
3 Dig your garden with the grid method above.
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