veggie_luva
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turning soil over

what is the best way to turn soil over ? in a plot 10" x 3"? :?

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Grey
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I usually use a hoe and work in sections, but there are a few methods out there. I also work some organic matter into the soil as I turn it - composted leaves & kitchen waste, some ground up eggshells, etc.

One way to do it is to dig out a 1' wide section down your row, putting the dirt on a tarp for the time being, then working the next row by taking the next 1' of dirt and putting it into the spot where the first row of dirt is. When you get to the last row, you take the dirt from the tarp and fill it there. You can mix in your organic matter pretty easily this way too.

And there's lasagna gardening - I had a book on it (it's in storage.... like the rest of my useful stuff) but basically you take up 5" of dirt onto a tarp, then lay down layers of newspaper, composted leaves, kitchen compost, chicken/horse manure, and then put your dirt back on top. At the end of the growing season you mix it together and for the next season repeat.

And others use a tiller. :)

opabinia51
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Tilling is only good once and really shouldn't been done at all. What it does is release all the carbon and nutrients in the soil at once, leaving nothing else for plants to consume.

My main vegetable garden is at least 20x30 and I just use a shovel and a pitch fork.


....... My uncle who's garden is just below mine (more or less on the same piece of property) is tilled every year (shudder) and every year his soil looks depleted and scarce of nutrients.

My garden has the same amount of manure (plus all the plant matter added to it is just cut up and left to compost rather than totally shredded) and the soil is this lovely deep brown and loaded with humus. My plants grow like stink and his to okay.

grandpasrose
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I never turn my soil over. I just keep mulching every year, right over top, amongst the plants. Then the next year, I hoe or rake it over to loosen things up a bit, and then remulch. Easy as pie!!
I started gardening this way in 1982 after I read a book by Ruth Stout, that is full of incredible tips to make things easier, and healthier for your garden. :wink:

Val
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I'm also from the "leave it alone" school.

There are microorganisms in the soil that can form large colonies that stretch over a relatively large distance. Regular deep tillage can disturb these magnificent little ecosystems that aid in root development and the absorption of nutrients. There was a study done on these colonies (I think it is a type of fungal organism) and I will attempt to find the article and post the website it in the forum.

Also I've found that regularly tilled soil is simply too inviting for sneaky squirrels :evil: and neigborhood cats looking for a place to "do their business"... :shock:

I'd follow Grey's turning procedure, using the tarp and adding organic amendments. If I have to take up a large section of soil I do like using a tarp because I always get back the same amount of soil volume (avoiding the "why is this hole still here" scenario) and I don't lose any earthworms when transferring the soil back…they are so important!

After this turn...I'd let the plot be.

Enjoy getting your hands dirty!

-Paul-

grandpasrose
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Right on Paul!! 8)

Val
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Yup regular tilling (once a year) turns your soil into dust, so it becomes water-mobile, washing down and compacting or just washing away...

Shovel and fork are the right recipe...

Scott

opabinia51
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I read about a fungal colony taking up something like 26 acres. All good stuff. The only reason why I turn my soil each year is because I use cover crops to keep the nutrients locked into the soil amongst these heavy winter rain (that we are having even as I type).

And I turn most weed matter (what little there is what with my cover crops) right back into the soil.

Though, if you really know your weeds and you find some invasives in your garden, it would be best to burn them or dispose of them in some other way.

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Sure thing Opa. Those of us here who know what we call Vermont weed sure don't want to turn THAT one in; every little root hair turns into a new plant! :evil:

Scott

opabinia51
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I've learned from the master Scott :wink:

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Paul's talking about mycorhizzii, a type of fungus you all have heard me go on and on about. These are the little critters that attach to hair roots and extend root systems or innoculate the little globes on bean roots or any of a dozen other things ( there are many species that do different jobs). Salt based fertilizers (all the blue-goo products are ammonia salts) kill these little helpers. So when I see someoone post and say they are using M-gro soil with cow manure, I worry bout this person who is working at cross purposes. Poop to get the fungii cranking, and then killing them all with the fertilizer in the soil seems pointless to me. I'm cheap; rather than paying for all the juice I just help the plants root system get more from less. That's how natural ecosystems work, so why not our gardens?

Scott

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