jared185
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tilling when its wet out.

Ok I have a question i found a friend thatb will help me with a bigger garden. We are needing to till up the garden and its been wet for a while now and looks like it will ne for a few weeks. We have it marked off the spot were the bed will be and and squared up with stakes. Now theres a lot of weeds and small stuff and some grass were it is would it be ok to go ajead and till just the top layer off were the weeds and all that stuff is and not go very deep.

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rainbowgardener
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Yup! If you have clay soil like me, tilling it wet will just turn it in to like adobe bricks that will stay like that all season. Don't do it!

You can go in with a hoe and chop out the weeds (without chopping up the soil). Or you can just cut them down to lie flat and lay a bunch of cardboard over them. That will smother out the weeds. Then if you can import a bunch of new topsoil and compost/ well composted aged manure to lay on top of the cardboard (like 4" deep), you can just plant in to that and not worry about tilling. After awhile, the cardboard and weeds will break down and you will just have a nice deep bed.
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valley
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Hi, maybe we are saying the same thing in different ways, but we have clay, silt in some areas, at the lower ranch. I find when it is damp, not wet, it is the best time to till or turn over the soil. I don't till with the tractors. Turning over the soil in garden plots, adding manure and/or other oganic mater and silt has done wonders for the earth there. Sand and duff from the upper ranch is great also.

I find that the next year the earth, where this has been done, is easier to work when dry.

I transplanted trees that had been planted last year in soil made up of mineral earth and horse manure, the earth around the trees was just heavenly, after just one year.

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gixxerific
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Been sitting here thinking about it hard. And in the end you are are better off to wait with the tiller.

Of course that is mainly for clay soils. If your ne area is good and loamy, which I doubt no offense, than you might be alright.

gumbo2176
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I have a clay based soil and will not think about tilling when the ground is wet. As a matter of fact, my ground is at least 4 dry, windy days from being able to be tilled as I type this. I turned the ground over a couple weeks ago and it has rained every second or third day since.


I have had to up-pot many plants to keep them from becoming root bound in their smaller containers until I can get them into the ground.

Hopefully, by the weekend I can finally pull my rows to plant my starts.

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jal_ut
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Please don't till wet soil.

Tilling soils that are too wet is a big mistake. It just develops clods that won't break down all season.

To test for whether soil is dry enough to till, take your fork and dig up one forkful. Take a handful of soil and squeeze it together tightly into a ball.

Now open your hand and poke the ball with a finger of the other hand. If the ball crumbles, you are good to till. If it just hangs together and squishes you must wait.

Patience.

OK, to get off on another tangent a bit. Till in the fall. Come spring, you can just go plant. This really works out well for the very early crops like lettuce, carrots, spinach and other early cool weather crops. (I know, this doesn't help much when you want to get tilling this spring, but keep it in mind come fall and the crops are done. Even if you only till a part of your garden in the fall, it gives you a spot for planting the early crops early, even before the ground gets dry enough to till.
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jal_ut
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Tilling in weeds.........

Hmmmm, I try to keep weeds out of my gardens. Not that this is ever possible, but I sure try hard to not let any go to seed. Tilling in the seed heads of weeds will certainly multiply your weed problems.

Lets face it, we are going to have weeds. The seed comes on the wind in many cases. In my case it also comes in the irrigation water which travels miles in an open canal with weeds growing on the banks. Then are those that produce seed right in the garden. Yep, we are going to have weeds.

It doesn't bother me one bit to till in the weeds right along with what is left of the garden plants. Any organic matter is welcomed in my soils. I do try to remove seed heads whenever possible before tilling.

The worst kind of weeds are those that have underground rhizome type roots. Some grasses and morning glory are two examples. To get rid of these one has to about hand dig and carefully remove the rhizomes. If you till them up, you just cut the rhizomes up into smaller pieces and each piece will grow. These rhizomes should go in the garbage bin to be hauled off. Put them in the compost and they will just grow. Well, if you can spread them out thinly, somewhere, and dry them thoroughly, they can be killed. The only other option I know is chemicals, but prefer to stay away from that.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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tomf
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All good advice; I will add that if you do not want to use chemicals lay some cardboard over the area and use dirt or some thing to hold it down. This should help kill the weeds and grasses. When it is dry and you do till, start out shallow, go deeper with every pass. Then go over it all real slow, going slow tills the dirt into a better consistency. If you rent a tiller get a bigger rear end tine one, front end tine tiller will kill your back and do not do as good of a job.

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digitS'
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You have gotten good advice, Jared.

My garden soil has probably the highest percentage of gravel short of a gravel pit conditions. I can get away with an earlier start to tilling because of that but there is a risk that I'll turn it into something like asphalt, even at that.

One tool that can provide an earlier start than a rototiller on wet ground AND get rid of weeds better (by far) is a spading fork. Don't tell me that it is just toooo much work. Especially after you've been over the ground in previous years (and, maybe because of the soil I've got to work with). The tiller is churning, bouncing and belching smoke. The spading fork does NOT require lifting the soil to do a good job - just a back-&-forth. That should give you the chance to reach down and grab the weed with the roots intact.

Of course, the type of weeds as well as the soil can make a difference.

Steve
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gumbo2176
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Re: Tilling in weeds.........

jal_ut wrote:Hmmmm, I try to keep weeds out of my gardens. Not that this is ever possible, but I sure try hard to not let any go to seed. Tilling in the seed heads of weeds will certainly multiply your weed problems.

Lets face it, we are going to have weeds. The seed comes on the wind in many cases. In my case it also comes in the irrigation water which travels miles in an open canal with weeds growing on the banks. Then are those that produce seed right in the garden. Yep, we are going to have weeds.

It doesn't bother me one bit to till in the weeds right along with what is left of the garden plants. Any organic matter is welcomed in my soils. I do try to remove seed heads whenever possible before tilling.

The worst kind of weeds are those that have underground rhizome type roots. Some grasses and morning glory are two examples. To get rid of these one has to about hand dig and carefully remove the rhizomes. If you till them up, you just cut the rhizomes up into smaller pieces and each piece will grow. These rhizomes should go in the garbage bin to be hauled off. Put them in the compost and they will just grow. Well, if you can spread them out thinly, somewhere, and dry them thoroughly, they can be killed. The only other option I know is chemicals, but prefer to stay away from that.
Speaking of weeds. I had a horrible time early this past fall with Oxalis and it is already starting to rear its ugly head again as the soil warms. That stuff spreads incredibly fast and it grows so fast I believe you can just about watch it grow. Kind of like a miniature Kudzu type problem.

valley
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Re: Tilling, Uncle Arnold gave me a tiller, been sitting in his back yard for over 30yrs. I pulled the head off, the valves are not frozen, no spark. Haven't pulled the flywheel off yet to look at the points. This is a strange one, the engine has a vertical crankshaft, never seen one like it. might be easer to take one of a lawnmower for it.

gumbo2176
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valley wrote:Re: Tilling, Uncle Arnold gave me a tiller, been sitting in his back yard for over 30yrs. I pulled the head off, the valves are not frozen, no spark. Haven't pulled the flywheel off yet to look at the points. This is a strange one, the engine has a vertical crankshaft, never seen one like it. might be easer to take one of a lawnmower for it.
You sure it's got points. Even some older model small engines had magnetos to supply spark.

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