how to prepare ground for a winter garden

Chino Valley, AZ

I bought this property about 10 yrs ago, had a garden setup that I never used. Now it is an amazing weed/grass patch. I would like to know how to prepare it again for use. In early spring I set out to weed it by hand. oh my. It got ahead of me in no time. A friend has a small size cultivator and I could use that to turn it all under. But won't the weeds just grow again from the bits turned under? Do I have to eradicate ALL weed/grass stuff? How about weed-kill, or will that poison the ground? I live in northern AZ; temp 80-90 day, 40-50 night.
Thank you Linda

Homeworth, OH(Zone 5b)

You can cover the area with clear plastic sheeting for a month or so, and that should kill most everything; especially w/ your temps.

Also, I would suggest you get a good soil test done, and amend the soil according to the results before you plant.

Good luck!

Grass Valley, CA(Zone 9a)

You can use round up but it won't solve the long term issue of weeds returning. I agree with BCH521, by using clear plastic you are heating the soil up to extreme temps which if done a month before you lose your high temps will kill all the seeds in the top surface of your soil, as well as the current weeds. I don't remember the depth that it kills the awaiting seeds in the soil, so you may want to look at other means for weeds once you have turned the soil.

Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

I agree with all, especially getting a soil test. PH is real important as well as what other nutrients are in or not in the soil. Take a number of samples from around the entire area and mix them together for the test. This gives you a good average of what your area contains overall.

Virginia Beach, VA

I do not use round up, I agree with using tarp or layers of cardboard to kill the weeds after pulling out the big ones. Apply weights on the tarp,after a month , till, amend soil, plant and mulch with compost after the plants are established.

Good luck.


Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

You could also use cardboard to kill the grass and it will compost in eventually.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

lindasch100 - If you have Burmuda grass or any other grass that spreads by underground runners, you will have to remove it. Otherwise, you could just till-in the weeds and sow your seeds.

The weeds will come back but, hopefully, not before your plants have become well established.

When I lived in Tennesse, I gardened in a nearby field of weeds. Despite having to share the space with the weeds, we had a fine harvest.

I do not recommend using weed killer as this will impede vegetable growth and possibly kill beneficial microbes in the soil.

An old Tennessee farmer told me that any dirt that grew a good crop of weeds, would also grow and good crop of vegetables. He was right!

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Yeah, it isnt the weeds you worry about, its the grasses-the more you abuse them the healthier they get, and some of those runners hit 4'down, sigh, could sheet it, till it, sheet it if you have time, but the weeds dont matter...

Chino Valley, AZ

thank you everyone. I have a very large tarp, got it out and hauled to the garden. I will use that. It has lots of grass, I don't know what kind. I will try to dig it out.
Thanks again everyone.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

My own theory is that "weed seeds are everywhere", and if the c onditions encourage them, they will grow. We have to stay on top of them, pulling or chopping so that the plants we want can get a head start.

A scuffle hoe or small cultivator gives the plants WE want a competitive advantage over weeds, by making the weeds re-grow from a fragment of root every time they get a few inches tall. Eventually the roots and leaves from OUR plants make life hard on nedw weeds trying to compete.

Mulch prevents many weeds from emerging, prob ably prevents some weed seeds from sprouting, and makes it lots easier to pull LOTS of the weed root out. Newspaper, carboard, leaves, wood chips, big bark chunks, carpet fragments, perforated plastic ... any kind of mulch helps control weeds as well as keep the soil moist and cooler.

Maybe (I wouldn't know) people who have cultivated one patch of soil for years manage to eliminate weed seeds from the soil: I've heard it called a "weed seed bank". Ask me again in 5-10 years, maybe I'll learn better habits and weeds will avoid my raw new raised beds, but for now, it seems to me that ANY patch of soil will quickly fill with weeds if allowed to.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

I LIKE the pulling and exposing bare roots to the hot sun, but there are a few tall weeds that can just be deadheaded-snap the flower parts off anytime they get ready to bloom- and it does help them disappear, the grasses we have, they aren't as simple and you will see many fields in our Texas panhandle that are slowly being taken over by the grasses-both coastal bermudas and grass bur types, and plowing does nothing but thicken these plots. Luck with the tarp-hope it doesn't rot before you are done with the way, the tlc you are goin to give your new garden tends to seep into surrounding areas and they get REALLY lush once you are planting- so give yourself a 'berm' of bare space to keep them back away from your plants

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