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A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

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Old April 13, 2015   #1
Cole_Robbie
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Default 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.
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Old April 13, 2015   #2
Redbaron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole_Robbie View Post
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.
Good Luck
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Old April 13, 2015   #3
Worth1
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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.

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Old April 13, 2015   #4
kayrobbins
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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.
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Old April 13, 2015   #5
Cole_Robbie
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Here's what it looks like now:
http://i.imgur.com/Aknf9bz.jpg

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:
http://i.imgur.com/4PjCMoh.jpg

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.
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Old April 13, 2015   #6
Redbaron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole_Robbie View Post
Here's what it looks like now:
http://i.imgur.com/Aknf9bz.jpg

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:
http://i.imgur.com/4PjCMoh.jpg

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.
I don't see how you can fail. People dream about that situation. I know I do. Taking it to the next level with no till seems like a no brainer to me.
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Bill Mollison
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Old April 13, 2015   #7
Tracydr
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That is some gorgeous dirt. I Would use it straight. Might want to test it first,just to make sure nothing is way off.
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Old April 15, 2015   #8
bughunter99
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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
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Old April 15, 2015   #9
Cole_Robbie
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I just came in from planting:
http://i.imgur.com/2t0PVxC.jpg
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Old April 16, 2015   #10
peppero
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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
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Old April 16, 2015   #11
BigVanVader
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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.
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Old April 17, 2015   #12
Cole_Robbie
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My first two outdoor rows are done:
http://i.imgur.com/ssfSMOP.jpg

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.
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Old April 17, 2015   #13
PhilSeneca
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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.
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Old April 17, 2015   #14
Lindalana
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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...
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Old April 18, 2015   #15
cjp1953
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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.
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