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Converting Sod Into Garden Soil

By Nolan Fraize

Early chilly time is an ideal time to commence a brand new garden or broaden the old one, and receiving the soil in shape is always the first step. Mort’s “lazy technique” of feeding new soil and organizing the seed bed tends to make planning your spring garden a pleasure. When I bought the 150-plus year-old house and 100 acres in Maine in 1969, I had no thoughts of be coming a back-to-the-lander. It was an investment. Then, I fell in love that same year with Barbara, and a few years later with the land. We have been living in the now 175-plus year-old house since 1972 and we are currently planning our 24th garden.

In a lot of methods, not much has happened to us during that time. Our phone number and address are the same, but the lifeless elms that encircled the house when we bought it were used for firewood years ago and swapped out with maples. They were twigs when we planted them. Now they tower over us, as do our children. And our backyard this year will be in the similar place the first one was.

Busting Soil

There are a couple of jobs that need to be done prior to planting season begins: A seed bed needs to be prepared and the soil needs to be fertilized. Our very first garden was hand made with a spade. That’s the way my father prepared his garden. If he could do it, so could I. I was excavating it for Barbara to plant half a dozen tomato plants. Converting sod to garden soil is not an easy task but hand-digging is not the most severe technique. As I remember, I even appreciated it. I would have to jump on the spade with all my weight to cut through the mat of grass and roots. The first spadeful had to be cut on all four sides before it could be dislodged and turned. But it got less difficult. The second spadeful only had to be cut on three sides and after the first row was turned it only took two jumps to turn a clump of sod.

Then each clump had to be bumped against the spade to separate the soil from the roots. I doubt that I took more than an hour to prepare yourself that first garden. It was compact, but it took the tomato plants Barbara had purchased with plenty of room to spare. I planted a few potatoes right out of the kitchen just to see if they would grow.

There are numerous advantages to turning the garden by hand rather than using a machine. Most attractive to me is the calm. It’s just me and the spade. I work at my own pace. Barbara says she likes to see me hovering on a garden tool considering who-knows-what. I do a lot of leaning just to captivate her. It’s also good exercise. You feel a special sense of accomplishment. You don’t do violence to the soil. More earthworms survive. It’s inexpensive. But perhaps the finest advantage is that you will not end up with a first garden that is too big and, eventually, disheartening.

Stop by Yvonne Zimmer’s site where you can find out all about best landscaping ideas and what it can do for you.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Fraize, Nolan "Converting Sod Into Garden Soil." Converting Sod Into Garden Soil. 18 Apr. 2014. 19 Oct 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Fraize, N (2014, April 18). Converting Sod Into Garden Soil. Retrieved October 19, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Fraize, Nolan "Converting Sod Into Garden Soil"

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