New gardener

Asked March 12, 2020, 2:21 PM EDT

I am planting my first garden in Atlanta, GA. My house had previous owners that previously gardened but overgrown so the space is laid out for me. I am not sure how to proceed though. There is a bunch of mint and lemon balm but so many weeds in between. What is the best way to get rid of these weeds and prepare the soil for gardening without killing everything that is already there? Do I individual pull out all the weeds, cut them down, or spray with something? Attached is a panorama of one of the spaces I'm working with, and a copy of my initial garden planner. Am I biting off more than I can chew? I'm just so excited to try everything out! Thanks in advance, Cameron

Fulton County Georgia

1 Response

Thank you for your question, Cameron. Begging gardening is both a challenge and a way of learning a new skill, so don't worry if you feel intimidated! The best "chemical" you can use to ready an unkempt area for vegetable gardening is elbow grease. Once the soil is dry enough to be worked, you can use a rake, hoe or trowel to get as many of the weeds out as possible. Using herbicides is risky when you're beginning to garden, because the terms are often confusing, and label directions are often not followed. Once you've gotten as many of them out as you can physically, there is still time to use the chemical (trifluralin) in Preen Garden Weed Preventer, which prevents weeds from rotting. However, plants with rhizomes (like grass) and established roots under the soil must have those removed, since the pre-emergent doesn't work for them.

Before you start doing any amending of your soil, I suggest contacting your county Extension office to get a soil test. (https://extension.uga.edu/county-offices/fulton/contact-us1.html) Although you missed the best time to add organic material to your soil (compost, leaves and well seasoned manure, for example), which is in the soil, better late than never!

While you're waiting for your soil test results, here is some light reading material from your state's Extension service on the other issues to be considered in vegetable gardening: https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C963&title=Vegetable%20Gardening%20in%...

Since some soil, insect and disease issues differ from state to state, I'd suggest you contact your county Extension office should you have more questions. They are a wealth of knowledge, with localized expertise. Good luck!