How do I prepare land for a vegetable garden?

There is a 12 by 6 lot on the side of my house that I want to turn into a vegetable garden. My parents have agreed to let me do it, but in the past, they’ve used tons of weed killers and its covered by rocks. I’ve read a tons of different stuff online, and I’m not sure which to believe. Any advice is appreciated.

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    4 Responses to “How do I prepare land for a vegetable garden?”

    1. sciencegravy Says:

      It will take lots of thankless labor to remove all the rocks, and expect it to take several sessions. When you think you’ve gotten all the rocks out, even months later, you’ll find more. Just whittle away at it every time you do something in there.

      As far as the "weed killers"…it very much depends on what product they used. If it was Round-up or the like, you can plant there if it’s been 2-3 weeks since they last sprayed. Although Roundup is not organic, it doesn’t stay in the soil very long. If it was anything that says "extended control", it may be 6 to 12 months before you can grow anything successfully there.

      Find out what they used, then come back and post a new question, asking how long after that product is used can you plant.

    2. Shozbot Says:

      first i would till it up and get all the rocks and weeds out of it you can .. if you dont have access to a powered tiller then its going to be alot of shovel work just dig it all up and turn the dirt over until its broke up good i would say at least 8-12" down .. then you need to amend it with something like several bags of manure or compost or depending on how much you want to invest get 20 bags of good topsoil and just replace the top 6" or so .. after its all ready to that point and cleaned out of rocks ect good and amended one way or another, now mix in about half a bag of fertilizer, water it in real good and let it sit for a week or so .. then rake up your rows how you want it and plant ..

    3. Bill Brikiatis Says:

      I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but if there were herbicides (weed killers), you should not plant a vegetable garden there. I believe this would be dangerous for anyone who would eat the vegetables. After all, these are poisons.

      My suggestion is to mulch the area with wood bark mulch and put raised beds in and grow ornamental plants. raised beds are when you use some type of border (wood, cement brick, etc.) to hold soil in one place. You can fill the raised beds with soil from a department store.

    4. fluffernut Says:

      First find out what weed killers. Some break down quickly, others linger for years!! If it hasn’t had a soil sterilent that lingers for at least 7 years….moving down through the soil profile, but rather the quicker decomposing Roundup and WeedBGon type stuff. If the soil sterilent that lasts 7 ears or more in the soil, then your only course is to remove the soil and add new stuff. 12 x 6 is about all I’d want to remove and replace. Still, that’s several tons to move.

      OK, hoping it is not sterilent: Out go the rocks. Turn the soil (won’t be easy as the rocks have compacted the soil). The oxygen being incorporated by the turning will start working on residual herbicides. Now add the living component of the soil……which is long gone right now……..add compost. Manure is OK, but compost is better as it has the microorganisms you’ll need to get the soil factory working again. Dig this in as deeply as you can. How much? If you can spread 7-12 inches over the top and dig down 3 feet…….great! >>>>>>>>>WAIT>>>>>>>Side of house may have undergound utilities and even the weeper tile system down there to remove moisture from the house perimeter. Research first and be careful when you dig!

      Now comes the waiting period. You have to let the soil become alive. Right now it is just dirt, no living orgaic material. You can start attempting to grow something. Test with sowing some beand and corn. If neither grows, then your parents were rather ruthless with the weedkiller. If one grows and not the other, it indicates the type of weed killer used. For example if the corn grows but not the beans, you’ll be planting corn…or grass for a few years. If the beans and not corn corn…….then you are good for all except corn for awhile. There’s no way to neutralize the weedkiller, just keep adding compost, turning under plant material until the microorganisms eat the offending herbicide.

      Fortunately that’s a very small garden. Even in a worse case senario, you could remove all the soil and add new stuff that isn’t tainted with herbicide

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