Tim has completed tiers 1,2,3 & 4, and some sloping below #4. It looks great. The tractor could use some maintenance, but has held up pretty well. (THANKS for all your hard work, honey!)
The next step will be to start our sheet mulching (or composting) to prepare the soil. First we will put down cardboard to stop the weeds from coming up and to give the worms a nice, damp spot underneath where they can go and do their thing. (Eventually the cardboard will break down and allow roots from our vegetables to go down deeper as necessary.)
On top of the cardboard we will put about 12" of layers of brown and green composting materials and top it off with black plastic sheeting. We'll leave it that way 6-8 weeks to "cook" the compost. After the compost is cooked, it should be about 6" higher than the current dirt level. This is the method outlined in "Lasagna Gardening" and we've heard it works great. We have plenty of horse manure to add to the layers, old hay we aren't feeding the horses, and some compost of kitchen garbage we began collecting about a month ago. We also bought a chipper/shredder (seen at the top of the photo at the right) so we can chip up all the yard matter we can gather. We got the used shredder from a craigslist ad, about $400 less than the new models. It was barely used!
Around the entire plot we will leave a path for Lucky, the dog, so she can continue to run around and bark at the bunnies & horses, which she loves to do. Between her path and the garden, we plan to put up electric fencing, some wires low to the ground to discourage the bunnies, and some higher to keep Lucky out. We're thinking of getting an outdoor cat, to keep the mice & bunnies away, but we'll have to figure out a way to let the cat in to the garden without being zapped by the fence.
I'm beginning to map out what will go where, based on sun & soil needs and companion planting suggestions. The plan is beginning to come together, so we can go crazy planting after (and in some cases before) the last frost date. The four tiered sections are flat, and then there's a bit of a slope going toward the back fence and to the right in the last photo. There, I'll put some things that could benefit from the drainage provided by the slope.