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Old October 8, 2012   #31
Tom Atillo
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My feeling is that I have seen "no till" work well but only in soil that is already good to go. If you have crappy soil......you will need to amend and till to get it to the stage where "no till" will work. Once at that stage.........all you need is a little compost each season and good growing practice such as rotation and removing dead plants promptly. When done right....this method can save a lot of work and produce a bumper crop!
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Old October 8, 2012   #32
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My feeling is that I have seen "no till" work well but only in soil that is already good to go. If you have crappy soil......you will need to amend and till to get it to the stage where "no till" will work. Once at that stage.........all you need is a little compost each season and good growing practice such as rotation and removing dead plants promptly. When done right....this method can save a lot of work and produce a bumper crop!
Pretty much what I have been thinking, too. Next year half my garden will be planted in green manure/cover crops the entire season, and the other half will be our vegetables, heavily mulched with some of the cuttings of the cover crops. And to help with loosening the soil, I have purchased a fabulous looking broadfork - I guess tomorrow I will find out just how fabulous it is!
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Old October 8, 2012   #33
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And to help with loosening the soil, I have purchased a fabulous looking broadfork - I guess tomorrow I will find out just how fabulous it is!
Lynn -

Congratulations on adding what I consider to be an essential tool to your gardening kit. Like most tools, I found there was a little learning curve to using a broadfork. If you've never used one or seen one being used a quick Google will give you some youtube hits and I suggest your start there. Then when you get it out in the garden, lean the handles a bit forward as you set the tines in the soil, about 15 degrees from upright or so, then step on top of the fork bar ends alternating from left to right back and forth until the tines are buried up to the bar. Then gently push and pull back and forth in a sort of rowing motion with the further you push and pull the more the soil will be worked. I've had my broadfork only one year now and my soil is so fluffy that I don't even have to step on the bar to bury the tines -- I just rock left and right a couple of times and the weight of the broadfork itself buries the tines up to the bar.
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Old October 8, 2012   #34
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Lynn -

Congratulations on adding what I consider to be an essential tool to your gardening kit. Like most tools, I found there was a little learning curve to using a broadfork. If you've never used one or seen one being used a quick Google will give you some youtube hits and I suggest your start there. Then when you get it out in the garden, lean the handles a bit forward as you set the tines in the soil, about 15 degrees from upright or so, then step on top of the fork bar ends alternating from left to right back and forth until the tines are buried up to the bar. Then gently push and pull back and forth in a sort of rowing motion with the further you push and pull the more the soil will be worked. I've had my broadfork only one year now and my soil is so fluffy that I don't even have to step on the bar to bury the tines -- I just rock left and right a couple of times and the weight of the broadfork itself buries the tines up to the bar.
Jerry, good tips, thank you. I wouldn't have thought to tip it forward initially, and the videos never point that out. I'm going to give it a test drive tomorrow, and I'm just hoping I don't fall off it!
Lynn
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Old October 9, 2012   #35
Tom Atillo
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Lynn -

Congratulations on adding what I consider to be an essential tool to your gardening kit. Like most tools, I found there was a little learning curve to using a broadfork. If you've never used one or seen one being used a quick Google will give you some youtube hits and I suggest your start there. Then when you get it out in the garden, lean the handles a bit forward as you set the tines in the soil, about 15 degrees from upright or so, then step on top of the fork bar ends alternating from left to right back and forth until the tines are buried up to the bar. Then gently push and pull back and forth in a sort of rowing motion with the further you push and pull the more the soil will be worked. I've had my broadfork only one year now and my soil is so fluffy that I don't even have to step on the bar to bury the tines -- I just rock left and right a couple of times and the weight of the broadfork itself buries the tines up to the bar.
I want one too!!!! I've seen em in action and they work great. Very well made and durable all steel versions are out there (I believe they have a lifetime guarantee). The only caveat is they are around $200
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Old October 9, 2012   #36
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I used something like a broad fork but I pulled it behind a tractor.
Looked something like this.

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Old October 11, 2012   #37
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Hi guys, I have a few questions. Back when I first joined the forum we had just moved here to KS from KY and I had some real trials trying to get a garden going. Unfortunately, those trials have continued and each year I get so disgusted that I swear I won't garden the following year. So much work for so little harvest. Then the "bug" gets ahold of me again and I try to think of something better or new I can do. I ran across a book by John Jeavons that got me hopeful about this very subject. It was like a lightbulb went on, that maybe all this time I had missed the main point by not focusing my efforts more on my soil.

I intend to AGAIN relocate my garden, this time back down near the house where previous owners had a garden but is now lawn. I'm unsure of the type of grass but could find out from my husband. I know at least some of it spreads by risomes (sp?) or runners. I've had a small garlic bed there that was constantly overrun by that grass so I have a concern that I just can't keep the stuff at bay. I want to try the no till method but not sure how to start.

Redbaron talks about his/her method and it sounds very promising for me but do I need to remove the sod base first to get rid of that grass? We turned it over for the fall last year for the garlic bed but it didn't seem to faze it. Right now we are in drought conditions; the dirt is hard packed and cracked.

Also, it is my understanding that this method is in "beds" vs rows but not the raised beds with formal sides?

Sorry, I know this is quite rambling and I have more questions that I'll think of as I read more in this book and stand outside looking at my hopefully future garden spot.
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Old October 11, 2012   #38
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Hi guys, I have a few questions. Back when I first joined the forum we had just moved here to KS from KY and I had some real trials trying to get a garden going. Unfortunately, those trials have continued and each year I get so disgusted that I swear I won't garden the following year. So much work for so little harvest. Then the "bug" gets ahold of me again and I try to think of something better or new I can do. I ran across a book by John Jeavons that got me hopeful about this very subject. It was like a lightbulb went on, that maybe all this time I had missed the main point by not focusing my efforts more on my soil.

I intend to AGAIN relocate my garden, this time back down near the house where previous owners had a garden but is now lawn. I'm unsure of the type of grass but could find out from my husband. I know at least some of it spreads by risomes (sp?) or runners. I've had a small garlic bed there that was constantly overrun by that grass so I have a concern that I just can't keep the stuff at bay. I want to try the no till method but not sure how to start.

Redbaron talks about his/her method and it sounds very promising for me but do I need to remove the sod base first to get rid of that grass? We turned it over for the fall last year for the garlic bed but it didn't seem to faze it. Right now we are in drought conditions; the dirt is hard packed and cracked.

Also, it is my understanding that this method is in "beds" vs rows but not the raised beds with formal sides?

Sorry, I know this is quite rambling and I have more questions that I'll think of as I read more in this book and stand outside looking at my hopefully future garden spot.
OK first off "my Redbaron method" is an experimental variation that I am attempting to try on a scalable to commercial trial. Please don't confuse it with the already proven methods developed by Ruth Stout or the Lasagne sheet mulching/composting methods. I don't even know that it will work yet. I BELIEVE it can work and I will try it on a large area of my yard next year, but haven't done it yet. Until I do, be forewarned.

Now if I was doing a garden with the conditions you speak about. I can help with a proven method. It is a lot more work to set up, costs a bit more too, but I can almost guarantee results if you start this fall.

Start with your designated area and find a barrier. It could be boards rocks tiles etc...be creative. Line the entire outside of your new garden area with the barrier after mowing the grass short as possible. ie...make a box. Lay newspaper 6 layers thick or cardboard right on the newly mowed grass. Be sure to overlap the edges of each sheet. Cover the whole thing with mulch. Grass clippings or old hay straw work great. Then buy some soil, compost, manure, worm castings, used mushroom bedding, shredded leaves, sand, fireplace ashes, whatever you think will help your soil and is available in your area. Lay it in on top of the mulch in layers. Think of rich and poor. Sawdust is poor, manure is rich, sand is poor, worm castings are rich. Try to alternate rich and poor about 1-2 inches thick or less. Lightly water each layer just enough to settle it a bit before putting the next layer on. You don't have to fill up the area in your raised bed first year. just one layer each is fine. You'll be adding compost and mulch for years. It will fill up eventually. Last layer put a normal grass clippings or hay mulch 3 inches thick. Going to the bait shop and buying a few worms cant hurt.

Let that settle and decompose all fall winter and early spring and you'll be ready to plant next year.

If you are lazy like me you'll skip all that work and just lay newspapers on the sod and mulch with a thick 6+ inch layer of grass clippings. It will work but not as good the first year. Takes a couple years and you'll be fighting the borders. But it works. I do that myself now. After 5 years in Oklahoma I have managed to turn the worst so called "soil" (really just whatever clay and sand that didn't blow away in the dust bowl) into some pretty good stuff. I didn't even do it in fall. I did it in the spring the day before I planted my first tomatoes. Like I said, I am lazy and a procrastinator! But as that sod dies and rots it does provide food for the plants and channels for their roots that first year.

The "RedBaron" method you can try with me and we will either succeed or fail together. But you'll need chickens. Theory is the chickens will speed the process that first year while providing eggs and/or meat in exchange for weed and insect control. Do you have any?
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Old October 12, 2012   #39
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Hey Scott, thanks for the prompt reply. I was laughing at your "lazy" comments because I don't think any of us gardeners are lazy, per say, but I do admit to procrastinating. Many times the weather just doesn't cooperate so when there is a "nice" day, I end up putting in my garden under not very ideal conditions. Soil too wet, usually, and dear hubby has turned it as a surprise favor, knowing I'm itching to get into the dirt. Means well but it usually doesn't turn out the best.

But hey, I DO have chickens. Keep in mind that the wind blows here, esp in spring, at a scary speed so it would be hard to keep that type of paper mulch in place. I'm willing to try and I do have access to lots of newspapers (I work at a hospital). What size beds are you talking about? I would like to temper what I would love to grow vs what I can take care of and make look nice, be productive and weed-free.

Of course I would like to have a nice variety of tomatoes but we enjoy a lot of various vegetables. Potatoes, beets, onions, garlic, collards and various lettuces/greens, squash, you name it. Last year I did manage to have some of the BEST broccoli and cauliflower ever, but it was before the weeds in that area over-took everything. Onions did fairly well too. Where our garden was is where we keep pigs usually so the soil was rich and relatively well-worked but full full full of weeds. We have a (pet) cow, pigs, chickens and various other critters so I have access to manure and you are right, chickens are the best at turning over various scraps. I don't even worry about stepping into my cow's manure because usually the chickens have picked even that over for whatever grain they can find. All of our animals are pastured/free range but supplemented with grain.

My only quarrel with my chickens is that they don't discriminate when it comes to weeds and they certainly love all fruits and veggies. They are fairly destructive when it comes to areas you would like to keep green or have veggie plants. They will eat your final product for sure.
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Old October 12, 2012   #40
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Hey Scott, thanks for the prompt reply. I was laughing at your "lazy" comments because I don't think any of us gardeners are lazy, per say, but I do admit to procrastinating. Many times the weather just doesn't cooperate so when there is a "nice" day, I end up putting in my garden under not very ideal conditions. Soil too wet, usually, and dear hubby has turned it as a surprise favor, knowing I'm itching to get into the dirt. Means well but it usually doesn't turn out the best.

But hey, I DO have chickens. Keep in mind that the wind blows here, esp in spring, at a scary speed so it would be hard to keep that type of paper mulch in place. I'm willing to try and I do have access to lots of newspapers (I work at a hospital). What size beds are you talking about? I would like to temper what I would love to grow vs what I can take care of and make look nice, be productive and weed-free.

Of course I would like to have a nice variety of tomatoes but we enjoy a lot of various vegetables. Potatoes, beets, onions, garlic, collards and various lettuces/greens, squash, you name it. Last year I did manage to have some of the BEST broccoli and cauliflower ever, but it was before the weeds in that area over-took everything. Onions did fairly well too. Where our garden was is where we keep pigs usually so the soil was rich and relatively well-worked but full full full of weeds. We have a (pet) cow, pigs, chickens and various other critters so I have access to manure and you are right, chickens are the best at turning over various scraps. I don't even worry about stepping into my cow's manure because usually the chickens have picked even that over for whatever grain they can find. All of our animals are pastured/free range but supplemented with grain.

My only quarrel with my chickens is that they don't discriminate when it comes to weeds and they certainly love all fruits and veggies. They are fairly destructive when it comes to areas you would like to keep green or have veggie plants. They will eat your final product for sure.
OK first point. The animal technique that will be combined with the veggie growing technique is not "free range". It is called "managed intensive rotational grazing". It is a very precise grazing technique that increases the forage available from pasture by double the very first year, and up to 5 times or more within a few years. The key is that you control very precisely the time spent on any particular part of the pasture (paddock) with portable electric feathernet fencing and/or portable cages. For example, you would pasture your cow on a paddock size where she could eat all the grass available in 1 day. Then move her to a new paddock, letting that grass recover exactly 3 days (not 2, not 4), then moving your chickens on the paddock for a day to turn under the manure and eat the fly larvae and other pests before they pupate. This is called Pasture sanitation. Then that part of the pasture is "rested" from any animals being on it for weeks until the "blaze of growth" stage of the grass is over. Then you can either graze it again or make hay/grass clippings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Managed...tional_grazing

So when you combine it with veggie growing you have to understand that you carefully and precisely control the areas the chickens are allowed to be, so they won't be able to eat your tomatoes because they will never be in direct contact with them. They will be confined to between the rows and only at specific times. Or before you plant/after you harvest. You can control chickens with either a "chicken tractor" or "feathernet electric fencing" depending on how many chickens we are talking about. Or both.

http://www.premier1supplies.com/vide...net&size=small

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6Z2_xvvNXg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvj6i4QPXZM

There are a gazillion designs large and small. You simply need to figure out what scale or combination of scales works best for you.

As far as the paper goes, remember, we are covering the paper with mulch so it doesn't blow away. It helps to lightly water the mulch to settle it down to the ground.

So basically for the method I am working on you would start out grazing the whole area of your garden down low to start. Then 3 days later let the chickens in and have them spread manure and sanitize the area of bugs. Then to prepare the garden/field, lay paper (covered with mulch) on the rows you intend to plant with veggies ONLY, while leaving just enough room between rows to pull a chicken tractor through. In between rows won't have paper or mulch.

Since your hubby already turned the garden for you, I would also fence the chickens on it this fall to scratch it clean and fertilize it. Then scatter plant a winter cover crop like clover or alfalfa, winter rye etc... The same fence that keeps them inside the garden will also keep them out of the garden over fall, winter, early spring. Graze it once next spring with your cow, 3 days later with your chickens, then lay out your rows and paper mulch etc.... Things that are direct sowed you can prepare as normal and plant, and mulch it later after the seeds sprout. Weeds can't grow through the paper covered with mulch barrier, so you won't get over run with weeds ever again. The part not mulched between the rows, weeds or your alfalfa/ grass or whatever cover crop will grow, but when it gets too tall pull the chicken tractor over it and let your chickens weed it for you. (no need to get the soil bare, leave short cover to prevent erosion and help improve the soil)

Is that better clarified?
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Old November 9, 2012   #41
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Hello,
This is great to find a whole forum on no-till gardening. This is something I am seriously considering after seeing the difference between one bed that I dug with the potato fork vs the tilled ground. It took all summer for the worms to recover from the tilling. Why I havn't paid attention to that in the past 20 years is just that, the past. But now I want to make a difference. However, our garden is about 8000' sq ft. I can't imagine hand forking the whole thing. We direct seed leafy things, potatoes, corn, peas and beans and beets/carrots. The rest is mostly transplants; broccoli types, onions, squash, celery, herbs. Any ideas on how to manage on what seems to me to be a large scale ? Granted, it gets planted in stages over about a month..... Thanks for any ideas !!
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Old November 10, 2012   #42
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Any ideas on how to manage on what seems to me to be a large scale ? Granted, it gets planted in stages over about a month..... Thanks for any ideas !!
I'd use a broadfork. Granted it would be a bit labor intensive but once you get the hang of using one you can work a large area in minimum time using far less effort than a garden fork would require.
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Old November 10, 2012   #43
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I'd use a broadfork. Granted it would be a bit labor intensive but once you get the hang of using one you can work a large area in minimum time using far less effort than a garden fork would require.
I second the broadfork - I bought mine from Valley Oak Tool Co. this Fall, and have been very pleased with it. It is a sturdy, well built tool, and as Jerry said, once you get the hang of it, it goes quickly. I imagine the earthworms are a little happier with me, too.
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Old November 10, 2012   #44
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Any ideas on how to manage on what seems to me to be a large scale ? Granted, it gets planted in stages over about a month..... Thanks for any ideas !!
I am working on a method to handle weeds on a larger scale for at least the transplants. You are probably aware of the black plastic commercial growers use. Roll it out and poke holes anywhere a seedling goes. Well instead of black plastic, you can use bogus paper covered with hay. Rolls come in widths from 1 foot to 6 feet wide and as long as 1000 feet + at very reasonable prices.

No need to plow or till or even broadfork. (although you can if you want) Just roll out 1000 foot row and cover with hay. BTW some of the small round bales can be rolled out too. If you use a round bale of hay and match the same width in bogus paper, you could very quickly roll out one after the other and be done very quickly! May need a tractor to move the hay bales though. Then just plant your seedlings through the paper.

I plan on trialing a version of this over virgin grass next year that even includes chicken tractors for later between row weed control. But you wouldn't have to go that far. The standard paper and mulch all by itself works great.

After a few years of this you usually don't even need the paper, hay is enough.

One thing though. I found out from another guy in Tomatoville that some hay is treated with herbicides. Obviously you need to find a hay source that doesn't poison their hay with any chemicals or it will poison your crop too.
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Old November 11, 2012   #45
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Thumbs up no till

This is an interesting thought with the brown paper. One of the things we have always considered is the blackness of the soil helping warm it up. Our subsoil is about 45 degrees.

What I usually do with the transplants is let them start growing pretty well after planting them out, 2 - 3 weeks depending on the weather, then mulch them to keep the weeds out. However if its a chilly Spring, I mulch them deeply with old hay and cover them to keep them warm. Then when the weather straightens out, pull the mulch back to warm the soil. Then the mulch gets rearranged around the plants through the season.

Does the paper itself do more mulching than the mulch, or about the same ? Does anyone recommend a source for the wide rolls of brown paper ? Would the rolls of news print paper work from the newspaper ?

I was thinking of asking my nephew who is a welder to make me a broad fork. Do you suppose the angles and such could be determined from a catalog picture ?
Thanks, Jean in Mt
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