Advice Needed - Convert "Mulched Area" into a Vegetable Garden


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Hey everyone! First post on the forum, and in need of some advice, so I decided to reach out.

We purchased a new home during the winter, and the yard looks like it has been let go by the previous owners for the last couple years.

I've started cleaning it up earlier this month, and am ready for the next big endeavor - creating a vegetable garden.

However, here's the issue:

There is a fairly large area in the backyard that is covered in old much (picture attached). This is where I would like my garden to be. However, waste disposal is a limiting factor in me getting rid of it all.

1) Is it possible to plant and grow a vegetable garden if I just mix/till the soil the old mulch? (I would likely add a certain amount of new soil also).
2) Alternatively, I considered adding a stone border around the area I wish to plant, so I could not only till the mulch in with the soil, and add a few inches of soil on top of it.

Are either options feasible, or is shoveling out the old much the only solution? Any other suggestions?

Also, if Option #2 is viable, how much extra inches of soil would I need to add on top?

Thanks for the advice!

Garden1.jpg
 
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I would not till in the mulch. The mulch appears to be made of rather large pieces and if this uncomposted material is tilled into the soil it will reduce the nitrogen needed by your garden. I would just rake it up and use it around your tomatoes and peppers. It will break down in time and become compost. You may not need to add soil although adding compost is always a great thing to do. It appears that a lot of sand has also been dumped there. Have you dug a hole in that mulch/sand to see how deep it is? And just what is underneath it? And please update your profile so we all know where you are located and can better advise you.
 
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No tilling required. Add more mulch where needed, dig holes (pockets) in the mulch, and put in your plants.
 
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What I would do depends on various factors. If there is only a thin layer I would dig it in and carry on. Planting in pockets is okay if what is underneath is okay, but it could be compacted or have any sort of rubbish dumped in it. Without at least an exploratory dig you have no idea, and it may vary, one spadeful to the next. If there was quite a heavy layer I would probably run a rake over it to get the big bits, put them in a bag, make sure they are damp and leave in the sun, Then I would sprinkle a bit of fish blood and bone and dig it in. It is true a lot of rotting wood will deplete the nitrogen a bit, that would help. I would also tend to use it for beans first year, they make their own nitrogen and don't mind it being a bit low, but like plant stuff in the soil to retain the water. If they don't do wonderfully you still get beans, just fewer of them. Brassicas on the other hand like lots of well rotted compost in the soil, with plenty of nitrogen, and if they don't do well are not much worth having.
To sum up, find out what's underneath and decide what you will put there.

PS I dug over a garden once that looked a bit like that and about a spit down found a layer of rotting tarmac. It must have been at least thirty years rubbish on top of it.
 
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Thanks for the advice! We're getting quite a bit of rain today but once the weather clears up this week-end I'll get to digging and share what I find.
 
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So I dug a little bit and here are my findings. The layer of mulch is quite thin - I would say 1 inch at the thickest.

Unfortunately, there is a layer of pea gravel underneath it - it is not a "thick" or uniform layer but it is mixed in the first 2-3 inches of soil under the mulch.

Not sure if that is a problem/what my options are at this point :S

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So I dug a little bit and here are my findings. The layer of mulch is quite thin - I would say 1 inch at the thickest.

Unfortunately, there is a layer of pea gravel underneath it - it is not a "thick" or uniform layer but it is mixed in the first 2-3 inches of soil under the mulch.

Not sure if that is a problem/what my options are at this point :S

View attachment 79112
Suggest adding additional (garden) soil, and good thick mulch on top - as others mentioned, a raised bed is one other good alternative.
 
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I would gather the mulch together for later, mix in compost with the first few inches, plan/create your growing area and walking area, plant what you want and then re-apply the mulch.
 
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