After 40 years away from gardening - I grew up on 9 acres in Maryland, about 7 acres of which were garden - I've started a small garden in the back yard. We live in North Dallas, lots of black gumbo.
I am really focusing on next year, although we have canteloupes that sprang from the compost we spread on the new rised garden and some tomatoes and squash and herbs.
I have scoured the neighborhood for bags of grass clippings and leaves. A local tree trimmer dumped a ton of tree mulch on the driveway. I have dug up small sections of the yard and filled in the holes with layers of leaves, dirt, glass clippings, dirt, and wood chips. Everything that is growing is surrounded with mulch, which I learned from my mother.
Next year, we will be a bit more formal and I have large sections of the back yard laid out. They were first covered with newspaper (no coated paper ads) then covered with 8" - 10" of wood chip mulch, then grass clippings and leaves as I find them. In essence this is a very wide compost pit.
The prospect of digging up all that black gumbo by hand is not appealing, so I am looking for a rototiller (somewhat more robust than the one I rented at Home Depot this spring) with the idea of rototilling the decayed wood chips and grass clippings into the black gumbo sometime in January or February. This would allow me to plant in the spring as weather and plant type dictate.
What do seasoned North Texas gardeners use to rototill black gumbo? Is there a club of folks who own a really good rototiller and share it or rent it out? If not, who is the best commercial rototiller out there? I would think one should get down about 8" or so.
Is there anything else I should be putting down at this time or just pile on the grass, leaves, and wood chips? Someone told me about a product called GUMBO BUSTER. Is this worth while?
Should I do the rototilling now with the undecayed organic matter I have down to get things started sooner?
Thanks for your help!
PS Yes, I have chronic Steam Car Disease. http://www.stanleysteameronline.com
Happily, there is no known cure.