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-   -   I think I'm going no-till (http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=36006)

Cole_Robbie April 13, 2015 04:59 PM

I think I'm going no-till
 
I'm almost done hauling the black topsoil out of the cow field that I use to amend my high tunnel beds. I left last year's black plastic mulch down all winter. The soil is soft below, and full of worms and pill bugs. Now I have piled a ridge of fresh black dirt over each row; I included every worm I found with it. There were quite a few.

I think I'm going to just throw the drip line back down on top of the ridge, put plastic on top of that, and plant. It doesn't feel right to till up all the life that is going on in that dirt. The huge worms in there are never surviving the tiller tines.

As long as it doesn't get too rich and rot the plant before it takes off, I think it will be ok. Last year, by amending my soil, I had the best-tasting tomatoes I have ever grown. Maybe by not tilling I can do even better.

It will be a first for me, though. No one in my family has ever planted a garden without tilling.

Redbaron April 13, 2015 05:02 PM

[QUOTE=Cole_Robbie;464439]I'm almost done hauling the black topsoil out of the cow field that I use to amend my high tunnel beds. I left last year's black plastic mulch down all winter. The soil is soft below, and full of worms and pill bugs. Now I have piled a ridge of fresh black dirt over each row; I included every worm I found with it. There were quite a few.

I think I'm going to just throw the drip line back down on top of the ridge, put plastic on top of that, and plant. It doesn't feel right to till up all the life that is going on in that dirt. The huge worms in there are never surviving the tiller tines.

As long as it doesn't get too rich and rot the plant before it takes off, I think it will be ok. Last year, by amending my soil, I had the best-tasting tomatoes I have ever grown. Maybe by not tilling I can do even better.

It will be a first for me, though. No one in my family has ever planted a garden without tilling.[/QUOTE]Good Luck

Worth1 April 13, 2015 05:24 PM

Cole you saw I think my tomatoes in the one raised bed.
I have never tilled it since I put the soil in.
This year I simply used my hands to scoop out a hole to plant the tomato plants.

Worth

kayrobbins April 13, 2015 05:48 PM

I do not till. I work too hard amending my soil to make it teaming with microbes and worms. It has taken years but my soil does not look like Florida's typical sandy pathetic soil. I always cringe when I see people tilling.

Cole_Robbie April 13, 2015 06:54 PM

Here's what it looks like now:
[url]http://i.imgur.com/Aknf9bz.jpg[/url]

The black stuff that looks like manure is the top soil from around the hay feeders. It's old manure and rotten hay. There have been cows on this piece of land since the Great Depression.

This is Sugar helping me:
[url]http://i.imgur.com/4PjCMoh.jpg[/url]

She was raised on a bottle and loves people. She's like a dog. She can't understand why my buckets contain dirt instead of corn, but my tailgate as a neck-scratcher was worth the trip over to say hi.

Redbaron April 13, 2015 07:32 PM

[QUOTE=Cole_Robbie;464469]Here's what it looks like now:
[url]http://i.imgur.com/Aknf9bz.jpg[/url]

The black stuff that looks like manure is the top soil from around the hay feeders. It's old manure and rotten hay. There have been cows on this piece of land since the Great Depression.

This is Sugar helping me:
[url]http://i.imgur.com/4PjCMoh.jpg[/url]

She was raised on a bottle and loves people. She's like a dog. She can't understand why my buckets contain dirt instead of corn, but my tailgate as a neck-scratcher was worth the trip over to say hi.[/QUOTE] I don't see how you can fail. People dream about that situation. I know I do.:yes: Taking it to the next level with no till seems like a no brainer to me.

Tracydr April 13, 2015 08:13 PM

That is some gorgeous dirt. I Would use it straight. Might want to test it first,just to make sure nothing is way off.

bughunter99 April 15, 2015 04:08 PM

Essentially it is already tilled as it was removed from its original location and relocated. No benefit from stirring it up further. All that will do will be to bring more weed seeds into the germination zone. Soil looks great. I predict great results.

Stacy

Cole_Robbie April 15, 2015 06:39 PM

I just came in from planting:
[url]http://i.imgur.com/2t0PVxC.jpg[/url]

peppero April 16, 2015 08:18 AM

I decided some time back to no till. I do as Worth; scoop it out to plant my tomatoes as well as other plants. I use a permanent mulch on all beds and the soil is in wonderful condition. Go for it.

jon:yes:

BigVanVader April 16, 2015 10:32 AM

I went full no till this year by doing lasagne beds right on top of the lawn. I'm a little nervous since this soil hasn't been amended other than what I put on top of it. By next year I think it will be much better off since I have manure piles composting now to add in the fall and will be planting a mixed cover crop this fall as well. Good luck Cole, I think you will find no till is a boon to the small farmer.

Cole_Robbie April 17, 2015 07:13 PM

My first two outdoor rows are done:
[url]http://i.imgur.com/ssfSMOP.jpg[/url]

I think I'm going to do the same thing and not till it. Last year's plastic was over the beds until last week. The soil underneath is fairly soft.

PhilSeneca April 17, 2015 08:59 PM

i dont till and because of it all the digging i need to do in my kitchen garden is by hand, the soil is so soft. just mulch and mulch. the corn field is too hard clay to go that route, and i need to dig to get the seed in, but similar principles are applied so that there are large perennial root systems separating the corn beds and hills, and constant mulching.

Lindalana April 17, 2015 11:58 PM

My community gardens were just tilled before April 1 and soil already rock hard... my gardens near the house I could dig with my bare hands... difference is tremendous. Unfortunately I can not impress enough on village not to till...

cjp1953 April 18, 2015 03:47 PM

I'm not using a tiller but today I turned my winter crop of vetch and rye under with a shovel.In 4 weeks I'll use my garden fork to work my cotton seed meal and garden tone in.Not really no till,but I don't lose many worms with a shovel as I would with a tiller.I kept a layer of straw 8" deep as a mulch cover in the garden last year and will repeat again this year.

Cole_Robbie April 18, 2015 04:19 PM

I was wondering about cover crops. I think I would be better off just leaving my black plastic on all winter than trying to take it off and grow a cover crop.

Redbaron April 18, 2015 06:20 PM

[QUOTE=Cole_Robbie;465696]I was wondering about cover crops. I think I would be better off just leaving my black plastic on all winter than trying to take it off and grow a cover crop.[/QUOTE]I planted rye and peas last fall on 6 rows. It's about knee tall right now. I'll let you know how it goes. Kinda hoping I can harvest some snap peas before I need to mow it down to make room for tomatoes and peppers. They are blooming right now.

cjp1953 April 18, 2015 06:29 PM

Everyone one's different,you can plant into the cover crop without turning it.But with rye you need to cut it back of kill it off.It can grow very fast with warmer weather.I like the fact that it is a green manure and vetch adds nitrogen to my soil.

Cole_Robbie April 23, 2015 09:42 PM

I hauled six truck loads of dirt over the past two days. My last four rows are ready for plastic: [url]http://i.imgur.com/8nZGD6b.jpg[/url]

All of it was shoveled by hand. I caught every worm I could. There were a lot.

Gardadore April 23, 2015 11:29 PM

Over 50 years ago I came across a marvelous book by Ruth Stout called "The No Work Garden". It was a very readable book with a good, literally down to earth common sense method of growing things. As a teenager I was very impressed and have never forgotten her admonition that if you till the soil you will upset, if not destroy, the balance of all the living microbes below. Consequently I try to dig as little as possible. For the last 8 years I have grown tomatoes in straw or hay bales and used the decomposed material after the season in my beds. My garden soil has never been better and is easy to work with my hands.
You can get good general info about her method and a list of her works at [url]http://www.goveganic.net/article182.html[/url]

For you mystery fans she was the sister of Rex Stout, who wrote the Nero Wolfe novels!

When I read the Lasagna Gardening Book, I immediately thought of Ruth Stout. Sometimes the old methods are still the best methods. Nothing wrong with tweaking the system to meet modern needs but the principles don't change! So Cole Robbie, I believe you are on the right track and will love your "no till" method and its results. Do see if you can pick up one of her books somewhere. Amazon.com offers several of them. They really are a good read since both brother and sister possessed a lot of wit! Good luck in your endeavor and do keep us posted concerning your results!

AKmark April 23, 2015 11:30 PM

Cole, you should have Popeye arms and the GI Joe with the kungfu grip, after shoveling that much dirt. And a backache

AlittleSalt April 23, 2015 11:51 PM

Cole, I agree. I've looked at this thread countless times.

Lol AKmark, I'm sure Cole has large forearm muscles. Long handled shovels make things so much easier. All that shoveling builds triceps too.

Cole_Robbie April 24, 2015 03:47 AM

lol, do u guys have facebook friends who do P90x and are always posting about it? I do. I like to call my manure hauling workout Poop90x.

Mike723 April 24, 2015 11:39 AM

Last year was my first year with no-till in the "old garden" and I'll tell you the soil this year is absolutely gorgeous.. Nice rich coffee color, light, fluffy and teaming with life - I mulched with approximately 2-4" of grass clippings and shredded leaves last year. I'll do the same with that plot this year.. No tomatoes though as to avoid another year of septoria..


[QUOTE=cjp1953;465689]I'm not using a tiller but today I turned my winter crop of vetch and rye under with a shovel.In 4 weeks I'll use my garden fork to work my cotton seed meal and garden tone in.Not really no till,but I don't lose many worms with a shovel as I would with a tiller.I kept a layer of straw 8" deep as a mulch cover in the garden last year and will repeat again this year.[/QUOTE]

I planted Hairy Vetch last fall in my new hoop house rows .. I'm tossing around my kill method and was thinking of just chopping it with some lawn shears (during flowering stage of course) and very gently working it in. I only have 3 rows approximately 3' x 30' so it isn't much in terms of labor either way... Have you had good results with just turning it over?

Misfit April 24, 2015 12:38 PM

Looking good, keep us updated!

I started a new plot last year, going no till. Cardboard, compost, and shredded leaves on top of the grass. It produced pretty good, even though the soil was rock hard and had no worms in it.

I planted out some of my tomatoes the other day. The soil was noticeably much easier to dig out (tomato holes). The best part, each hole had 2-4 worms in it. I'm happy I gave it a try.

-Jimmy

Cole_Robbie May 5, 2015 04:41 AM

I may have overdone it a little on transporting too many pill bugs. One plant site out of my 77 in the high tunnel keeps getting eaten. It's on plant #3 at the moment. Several of my other plants have chewed-on stems.

But overall, everything looks great. The high tunnel plants are taking off and have begun to flower. When I pull weeds from around the edges of the black plastic, ants and pill bugs erupt out of the ground. I know I have a lot of earthworms and grub worms as well. My beds are a colony of life.

By contrast, I also planted some tilled ground in a couple rows a family member let me use in their garden. I never saw a single worm, or really any living thing in the soil at all. I don't expect the tomatoes there to taste very good; I just want them for seed.

I had a few outdoor plants eaten by a rabbit. When I replanted those sites, I eventually stopped carrying my little hand shovel that I usually plant with. I don't need it, because my hand easily slides a foot deep into the soil to set a new plant.

I'm convinced that these will be the best-tasting tomatoes that I have ever grown.

Redbaron May 5, 2015 10:26 AM

[QUOTE=Cole_Robbie;470190]I may have overdone it a little on transporting too many pill bugs. One plant site out of my 77 in the high tunnel keeps getting eaten. It's on plant #3 at the moment. Several of my other plants have chewed-on stems.

But overall, everything looks great. The high tunnel plants are taking off and have begun to flower. When I pull weeds from around the edges of the black plastic, ants and pill bugs erupt out of the ground. I know I have a lot of earthworms and grub worms as well. My beds are a colony of life.

By contrast, I also planted some tilled ground in a couple rows a family member let me use in their garden. I never saw a single worm, or really any living thing in the soil at all. I don't expect the tomatoes there to taste very good; I just want them for seed.

I had a few outdoor plants eaten by a rabbit. When I replanted those sites, I eventually stopped carrying my little hand shovel that I usually plant with. I don't need it, because my hand easily slides a foot deep into the soil to set a new plant.

I'm convinced that these will be the best-tasting tomatoes that I have ever grown.[/QUOTE]Congratulations! Wish you the best Robbie.

I found that to be the case myself.:yes: Once you go no till you never go back!:twisted: But that doesn't mean there are no nuances here and there. Like you said there is a whole teaming colony of life. Not all that life is beneficial, but most is. You still get some pest damages, but seldom a whole crop. I also lose a few plants here and there. The ones that make it though, WOW.:yes: And the soil simply is incredible. No wonder there is no need to till. With all that teaming life, the soil for sure gets plenty churned up by worms and such.:yes:

Cole_Robbie May 23, 2015 07:17 PM

Here's a funny addendum to this story. I just figured out that my EZ-Flo injector is not working at all. I found a TDS meter and tested the water coming out of the drip tape. It is exactly the same as tap water. I can see bubbles in the output line of the EZ Flo. They don't flow; they just sit there. And the solution in my tank isn't changing color at all, like it should as it gets diluted.

so I am organic(ish)....by complete accident.

All my plants look great. I am growing mostly compact determinates, and they are already chest-high. I have small tomatoes on them now, and look to have ripe ones in about three weeks.

Redbaron May 23, 2015 07:23 PM

[QUOTE=Cole_Robbie;474938]Here's a funny addendum to this story. I just figured out that my EZ-Flo injector is not working at all. I found a TDS meter and tested the water coming out of the drip tape. It is exactly the same as tap water. I can see bubbles in the output line of the EZ Flo. They don't flow; they just sit there. And the solution in my tank isn't changing color at all, like it should as it gets diluted.

so I am organic(ish)....by complete accident.

All my plants look great. I am growing mostly compact determinates, and they are already chest-high. I have small tomatoes on them now, and look to have ripe ones in about three weeks.[/QUOTE]It's a sign! :twisted:

Cole_Robbie May 23, 2015 07:39 PM

On an unrelated thread, worth posted a picture of a meat injector, which is a giant syringe. If I can find one with a long enough needle, or make an attachment to make it longer, I don't see why I couldn't go around with a bucket of organic ferts and inject the raised beds that way. Then I could use goopy organic products that would have clogged up my drip tape.


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