Posted 04-29-2003 at 04:07:04
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Double digging. And they're out of their tiny little minds. DD would be okay for a 3x4 flower bed, but a 25x75 garden? I think not...
As Randy said, tilling breaks up the soil into very fine particles, which then compact too much and squeeze the air out of the soil. I forget the exact numbers, and I'm too lazy to look them up, but in any given handful of soil, something like 25 to 30% of it should be air space. Another side effect of tilling is due to mechanical damage and the aforementioned compaction, it reduces the amount of earthworms.
That having been said, tilling ONCE in the Spring just before planting is fine. It's that urge to till early to get the soil to dry out (which, btw, makes the problem worse, not better) till again because the weeds have started to come up, and then till AGAIN just before planting that does evil things to your soil. And then, for good measure, till in the fall and leave the soil bare to erosion for the winter. That's the way I've done it for years, and my production goes down a little every year.
I'm going to change my ways this year on a couple of things:
I'll till once, the day I plant.
I'm going to strip till in separate little beds, and plant white clover in the walkways between. The idea is to alternate walking strips and planting strips every year. Gives the soil a chance to rest, and the clover fixes nitrogen in the soil.
I'm going to plant a border of buckwheat all the way around the garden to lure in beneficial insects.
With the possible exception of the potatos (due to the amount I plant) I'm going to resist the urge to hoe with my Troy-built. I'm pretty sure I've still got a hoe around here somewhere...
I will probably still till again in the Fall, but I'll do it earlier and get a cover crop of oats in to protect the ground over the winter.
If I can ever find a decent one bottom trailer plow, I'm going to try plowing and discing as an alternative to tilling for intial soil prep. Should cut down on the particle size/compaction issue.
I'll let you know how all this works out.
I'll let ya know how all this works out.