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Removing Your Lawn to Grow Food

Posted by David Grau on

Originally Posted on April 11, 2013

Removing Your Lawn to Grow Food

Removing Lawn with a Wheel HoeWe’ve been reading many stories about people around the country who have been removing their lawns to replace them with food gardens. We think this is a great idea. The Valley Oak Wheel Hoe can be used to cut sod, which is often the desired first step in the lawn-to-food transformation. David recommends sharpening both sides of the hoe blade so you can cut the sod until the front side of the blade gets dull, then turn the blade assembly around to cut some more.

This is an excellent alternative to renting a gas-powered sod cutter (we’ve tried them in the distant past, only to come away with sore bodies, rattled ears, and lungs full of toxic fumes). Once your sod is cut, you can attach a cultivator to the wheel hoe, and work up the soil to get it ready to plant. We recommend planting not only vegetables, but also some flower, such as buckwheat, calendula, and some flowering plants native to your area. This will help attract beneficial insects and pollinators (such as the all-important bees) to the garden, and increase biodiversity.

Have you made a successful transition from growing lawn to growing food? Send us your story and photos!

Trial Garden at Valley Oak Tool Co. Headquarters Planted

Home gardens are getting planted in our area, including tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and other transplants. In some of our warmer gardens, volunteer squash plants are pushing out cotyledons, and we’ve spotted a few volunteer tomato plants too. The garden at Valley Oak Tool Co. HQ is serving as a trial garden once more this year.

David Grau (Valley Oak Tool Co. founder and owner) and Carla Resnick made a second field trip to Sawmill Creek Farms (view the video of the first trip). This time around they were picking out plant starts to put into the trial garden. Several different varieties of tomatoes, a few peppers, eggplants, and some herbs were selected for the trial garden.

David and Carla are both long-term gardeners, with different approaches to gardening, and they’re splitting the trial garden in half, for a friendly and fun gardening competition.

The garden is bisected with a row of Italian Heirloom variety of chard we planted from seed a few weeks ago. David’s approach is based on his years of farming, and Carla’s approach is based on using her permaculture training. The competition is friendly, with various discussions about the "right way" to do things. Both of them know quite well that a truly "right way" does not exist. Gardeners are always adapting to their own conditions and they know that what works best others might not work for them.

Day one included picking out the starts, and found David planting three tomato plants (they had not been potted on, so needed to be planted right away). Carla planted the other side of the garden with thirteen tomato plants of various varieties, three peppers, and a lovage plant. She collected wilted weeds and fallen leaves to heavily mulch the plants. Carla also sowed a patch of basil and cilantro seeds, and a patch of buckwheat seeds (which will help attract beneficial insects). Carla planted her tall plants deep after digging holes with a shovel for each plant.

A few days later David got the rest of his plants (approximately 36 tomato plants, seven peppers, three eggplants, some parsley and tarragon) into his tidy rows. He used the furrower attachment on the wheel hoe to make his rows, and he planted just covered the potting soil when he put the plants in. A few days of rain helped get the plants settled, and David is planning on setting up drip tape for irrigation, whereas Carla is planning to water by hand.

View our video of David planting his side of the garden.


We’ll keep you posted on their gardening competition at the Valley Oak Tool Co. trial garden.

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