I chose to start fairly small for a homesteading garden because I know how much work a new garden can be. This garden will be a lot different from my previous one because it will not be raised and I know that a change like that can bring a big learning curve with it. So, I tried to tame my enthusiasm and be realistic......we'll see how that goes....
Finding a suitable location was harder than you might expect. There are a lot of trees out here- a problem I didn't have at the McMansion. I did find a place that will work, but even there we'll have to take out some trees so that they don't grow bigger and shade the plot too much.
Once I found the spot, I decided how big I wanted it and laid out paper right on top of the grass. Special weed barrier paper is available at nurseries and similar stores and that would have worked great, but I found a big roll of contractor paper at Lowes that was the same price as a much smaller square foot amount of the weed paper so I went with that. I also got some special lawn staples that are made to hold weed paper or fabric in place- turned out those didn't really work all that well with the paper I got.
I'm using a lasagna garden method. The general idea is that by putting a layer of organic material right on top of the ground you can kill off the grass and weeds and have a plot ready for planting in the spring. Some people do not till at all with this method, but I plan on tilling the ground before I plant- I just want to get rid of as much grass and weeds as possible before I do. I ended up with a plot that measures about 19 ft by 7 ft- more square footage than I had at the McMansion, but not by too much.
Once I had the paper down I put some wood chips and things down first and then covered them with top soil. I will then put a good layer of manure on top of that once the Hubs is able to go pick up a load from a local horse owner who offered us some of his bounty for free. The hope is that over the winter all of the larger things will break down and feed the soil and in the spring I'll have a lovely, fertile garden plot to plant in.
I cannot wait for the first seed catalogs to start arriving in late winter. Picking what to plant is going to be so much fun!