Here is a series of pictures of the back yard of the house I bought last summer. It took all summer just to clear the lot of the weeds (*very* large ones), trash-trees squirrels had planted over the past five or so years, and a very large patch of poison ivy by the large stump in the back left. BTW, That's not lawn you see ... LOL... that's pure weed!
From what all the neighbors tell me, I'm the first person to have actually mowed the lawn in 3 years. As you can imagine, I had my hands quite full. The fun part is that the house is also a fixer upper so I had tasks to complete indoors all fall and winter.
I'm planning on soil testing as soon as is appropriate (ground is very wet right now). I have to admit, I'm a little nervous about the possibility of metals, like lead, etc. but I'm testing anyway. When I moved in, I knew I was going to have to remove the only three trees on the property due to severe neglect and damage. So now, there's pretty much nothing back there but for a lone forsythia. I've some items I've brought in but nothing much really. The area is 50x70'.
So... Spring hits this weekend. I've been out there looking around. And frankly, I'm a little overwhelmed at where to start. First thing I know, is that I have got to amend this soil. I don't need testing to tell me it's a mess. :o The top layer is a dull looking brown. Underneath I've found clay and what seems like a lot of sand. I thought that was a strange combination, but then, I don't know that much about soil. For what it's worth, I live very close to the Delware River so perhaps that explains the combination.
So my question(s) to you all is basically, what do I do first? I've been reading through the forums to try and find some stuff on how to restart a plot from scratch. And while I saw some threads that touched on it, I find myself still a bit confused. Should I turn this "turf" under and then maybe blast everything all summer with a plastic cover? Or is something like that a lost cause because of what's been growing here for over 5 years or so? Do I truck in soil or can I make a real difference on my own? (I'm not weathy so that's a limiting factor too) If I remove the turf, I'd also be removing what little topsoil I actually have. But then again, it's grub heaven in there.
I've spent the winter laying out a detailed plan for the garden. And while it'll take me a long time to acquire the items, I'm patient. I just want to make sure that whatever purchases I make have a fighting chance and will be happy in their new home.
I'm not afraid of hard work. I did most everything in the back by myself and truly do love gardening. I'm just at a loss on how to get this one going. I read a lot of stuff on bumper crops and feel that I probably missed a good opportunity last fall to do some good back there. :o Is there anything I can do over the Spring and Summer to help? I can't seem to produce enough raw materials on my own to get a good compost going (But I'm not giving up either! I want to be organic here.)
And so, any suggestions you have would be ~very~ welcome.