Revamping partial shade garden (newbie)

koikana(6)February 23, 2014

We moved into an apartment that has a tiny garden area in the shape of a 1/4 of a circle... Maybe 6 sq ft, max, probably less.

What's currently there (and forgive me, I'm terrible at identifying plants) is some of that wheat-y looking grass clumps, a clump of yellow and white flowers (well, before they died overwinter) that looks almost bushy, and what looked like violets sort of. The bushy flowers are already growing back, but there's also weeds and grass growing. On top of the landscape fabric. There's about a little less than an inch of wood mulch on top of landscape fabric (neither of which I've ever used, but I want to rip up the fabric) but my questions are this:

* What is the easiest way to pull up a small area of landscape fabric? I'm disabled, but do way better crawling around on my hands and knees than standing up.

* What are some easy beginner plants for partial to full shade? Preferably veggies that can be grown singly, fragrant plants, or ground cover is what I'd prefer. we've yet to be here in summer, but right now we're only getting 4-5 hours direct sunlight. It's on the west side of the building.

* I'm almost certain the soil underneath the fabric is useless. Can I just stir it around and add topsoil? Do I need to dig it out? Do I need to add worms or will they come on their own in time to be beneficial to my plants?

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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Sorry you've not had an answer. I'd tackle the cloth on my knees with a bucket to hold top debris and scissors to cut away portions of the cloth.

If the orig. soil is rock hard get a trowel and work off the top 2 inches. My friend complained of her clay soil and when I dug in it I told her she didn't know what real clay soil was. My problem was if I added enuf organic material to make it friable, it would rise up at least 3 inches! Patiently I dumped a bucket each week. When the level was down I added 1/2 inch aged manure and 1 inch of composted organic material. When that was dug into the top 8-10 inches the level was elevated. (It really does need to be dug in.) Decomposition over the year reduced it again. More compost each year. Ask around for an eager 10 year old who wants to earn some money to do your digging.

Vegetables need sun and with western exposure you will probably have 8 hrs. in May. We plant tomatoes, corn, beans, zucchini (takes room), eggplant and peppers for summer crops. Basil and cilantro for annual herbs.

After the digging in of amendments (manure, etc.) is done, you can add worms if there are none. Ask at nurseries where to find them.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 11:20PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I'd remove the cloth, as recommended above, and add a bag of composted manure from a garden center. Are you planning to remove the plants that are there? If you haven't been there during a summer, I'd suggest keeping what is there and just trying to control the weeds. Ornamental grasses can be quite a challenge to remove--they can have very deep, tough roots. Also, there may be other plants that come up in spring, like bulbs, that you aren't aware of. Then, again, if you don't plan to be in this apartment forever, it's hard to wait a full year to start making it the way you would most enjoy it. Good luck.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 8:38PM
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