Hubby and I have been busy over the last several weekends planning and preparing our new vegetable (and fruit!) garden. We are clearing most of a 50x50 spot, excluding a corner that sports a few big cherry trees. My parents owned our house before we bought it from them, and they used to keep a garden in this location when I was a teenager. It is fun to be recovering the family garden!
We got the sketch together, marked the corners with orange paint (whee!) and got a little help taking the grass out. We've both been working long hours this spring and we figured there would be more than enough work even after the sod was gone. So far, this appears to have been a good call! We had the gardener put the piles of sod aside for composting, seems like it should compost quite quickly.
After studying up on row design, we ended up choosing 4 foot wide rows with 2 foot aisles between. These apparently have a few advantages - light soil because you don't walk on the bed surface, warm soil from the raised mound in the spring, some shading of the soil in the summer due to the dense planting without so many rows in between. Plus heck, they just look cool. We also included 4 foot paths for major thoroughfares, and plenty of area for the dog to run around the perimeter.
We staked a few beds out and started loosening the soil. It was fairly compact where it had been lawn before. First we loosened the soil with shovel and pitchfork, next we decided to sift the dirt with a sifter we'd made for the compost. That took much longer than we expected, but the soil did end up light and lovely. We had the neighbor's loyal golden retrievers for company. Sorry about the sunspot, but this one was the best angle...(We forget about the sun here in the winter, we see it so rarely!)
In addition to sifting the beds, we also sifted the compost. We plan on planting in a few of these beds quite quickly (onions next weekend!) so we didn't want too much hot/unfinished compost. The lumpy bits (on the left) get returned to the big compost pile for a little more work. 2 beds down, 6 + to go.
Should be quite an adventure! Now we're puzzling on a deer fence...