User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

To Till Or Not To Till That Is The Question

I know this has been gone over but there are new people on here now with new ideas. I also know about the microbial life that could be set back with tilling.

What I want to know is if YOU don't till your garden what do YOU do and why.

I am in a pickle I have always tilled my garden, but now come to realization that that may have been wrong. It figures because late last summer I acquired grandpas tiller to keep instead of borrowing which was usually not convenient. I know some of you double dig or pry the ground around with a fork etc. But my mindset say's that this is the same thing as tilling in a sense. So why is that better than using a machine other than the fuel/carbon release part.

Wouldn't digging and flipping and stabbing also mess up the microbial life upset the fungi kill hapless earthworms and in general bring chaos to the soil food web? So why is the guy behind a tiller the bad guy but the guy behind the shovel the good guy? Or should nothing at all be done? So many questions I don't know where to start.

So enlighten me, tell me I'm a fool, or confirm my previous light use of a tiller. :idea:

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27743
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

My purpose in forking the ground, which I only do when starting a sheet mulched garden bed (or tree planting area), by the way, is to open up a foothold -- be it stabbed prong hole of the garden fork or fracture from prying around -- in the solidly compacted clay under the sod which comprise unworked (ungardened, if you will) ground on my property. By putting compost, etc. on top and watering in, I introduce the beginning of biological and microbial action, provide ready-made airways and pathways for the roots and earthworms to travel deeper and make it easier for them to connect those pathways and eventually make the entire -- what used to be just clay -- subsoil their home.

When each plant is done giving up the harvest, I lop them at the ground level, leaving the roots in place to break down (i.e. be broken down/consumed as organic matter). The tops, I used to mostly put in the compost pile, but I'm re-thinking that now.

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

I am a leave the root in ground guy as well.

But Even digging or forking can disturb the natural air and water passages from what I read. and that messes up what the worms etc have been doing. Worm holes can go very deep and latterly as well depending on species.

So what I'm thinking is either NEVER touch the soil or do what you want (till, dig, fork).

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27743
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I want to stress that what I'm dealing with is PACKED SOLID, comes out in blue-green lumps clay. I will occasionally find earthworms even in there, but they're usually between the sod and the clay. I have, on occasion, found an earthworm in the solid clay mass, so you're right that they manage to travel in there. They're usually bloated light pink. They leave an open tunnel. But a single earthworm in a 1 or 2 sq. foot space? Nary a chance of stabbing one, and MANY MANY more will move in after sheet mulching.

I may find out different as I get further along in the book, but clay, I believe is mostly mineral, anaerobic, and not a hopping party zone for the microbes (that we want).

User avatar
Ozark Lady
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1862
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:28 pm
Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

I don't own a tiller.

I have never owned a tiller.

Reason 1. I have rocks... rocks would break a tiller.
2. I have tree roots... roots would break a tiller.
3. I don't have the money to buy one.

Early on, I wanted to garden, about 25 years ago, I read up on the subject... could I garden with rocks, roots, and without a tiller?

Well, I found that I can double dig, and get the rocks out, cut out the roots, and totally destroy the soil... ha ha. But, I only had to do that once, and that is when I am first making a garden, or when tree roots return.

It was explained that the tilling, the rhythmic turning of the blades, will actually compact the soil and create a deep hardpan that is impenetrable.

I do, actually rough up the top inch or two of soil, mostly with my bare hands, occasionally with a hand trowel. But, I don't dig deep very often.
I think it is the frequency of the digging that is the difference.

I would agree, if a person double digs every year... what is the difference, only the fact that you are less rhythmic? ha ha

I have not arrived to the point of not digging or tilling... I still LIKE to dig!
If I had a tiller, I bet I would LIKE to till too!

So, I reserve my deep digging for areas that have roots, that are rocky and I want to remove some rocks to grow root crops. And I try to get my beds in good tilth, and lots of humus, so it does not need to be dug... I can focus my energy elsewhere, and leave the soil in peace.

It may not be the answer you were looking for... but this is my personal opinion and reasons for no tiller.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

Thanks for the replies so far.

And I would like to stress that this is not a bash on anyone, please believe me. I'm just trying to figure out what I have been pondering on for some time now. :D

Basically I'm looking for the answer to my dilemma of if I should till at all this year. Some of my garden is probably great to not till but others not so. This is a new garden and it was clay when I got here. If it would ever thaw out I could find out what kind of shape it is in. My normal method would to till but in the back of my mind I say "NO" but than even further back it say's if you don't than ....................................................!?

Peace Dono

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

It is a tricky question and I don't think I have all the answers. But my soil here is also solid clay, yellow in my case, but like you could make pottery out of. I think in a situation like that, to start a new bed you pretty much have to till it once or twice at the beginning. By twice I mean close together-- till it, lay down a bunch of soil amendments and till them in.

As AS points out the solid clay has minimal soil biology to disrupt at that point anyway. But having done that once, I think that should be it. There should not be any need to come back next year and do it again. And next year there should hopefully be lots of soil biology that you added when you tilled in manure, compost, etc.

I do think running sharp churning blades through your soil is different from turning it over with a fork. Since I do small scale raised bed gardening, I turn it with a trowel, just enough to loosen it up a bit and turn in all the leaves that have been sitting on top as mulch since last fall.

The question is what would we be recommending for farmers, with acreage? Difficult to do that with a fork. I'm thinking if you keep your soil very enriched, mulched all the time, that maybe all you would need is pull the mulch out of the way and make a quick pass of very shallow tilling just in the seed row, just a couple inches deep, just to make a nice little bed to drop seeds in. Then add your compost and what not as top dressing, don't worry about tilling it in, let it work itself in. But it's outside my experience. I do think we have to be thinking about what practices will work for acreage, not just in our backyards.

TZ -OH6
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2097
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:27 pm
Location: Mid Ohio

Tilling bare dirt just to loosen it up is not a good thing over the long term (year after year) because it will add oxygen and shift the organic decomposition from slow fungal breakdown to fast bacterial breakdown, but if you are tilling in moderat to large amounts of organic matter and then covering with mulch the way most gardeners do you are feeding the fungi and protecting them from drying out so the good microbial community is enhanced. I kill soil microbes all the time but when I see mushrooms popping up out of the soil a few weeks after I do it I'm pretty sure that they are not holding it against me.

As far as worms go, if you are tilling or turning with a fork or shovel you don't need them to do their comparatively small amount of soil turnover. Their bodies are high in protein = nitrogen, which they ate out of your soil and stole from your plants. This is why they are a good indicator of garden soil health (lots of compost = lots of worm food). If you chop up a worm you are fertilizing your plants by giving them back that nitrogen.

One way to avoid having to till is to prevent your soil from compacting. Put down walkways of boards or pats of straw, so that your feet don't compact the soil and keep a thick mulch over the soil so that pounding rain drops don't compact the soil. Planting cover crops on the off season will help too because their roots force open spaces between soil particles.

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

TZ I have been thinking about doing something like this in the garden this year. I have been adding organic material since i moved in about 3 years ago. But right now there is still chunks of horse poo on top of the soil. I thought about giving it a very light tilling. I am going to put at least 2 yards of well composted "humus" (that's for you toil :wink: ) on top of that. I will still do the "humus" but not sure about the tilling. I want to make my garden great but not at the expense of my garden. Following me?:idea:

That's where you all come in. :P

User avatar
boggybranch
Full Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 10:19 pm
Location: Ashford, AL (Zone 8b)

I started my garden year before last. Dug it out, all by hand, using, only, a "Garden Claw" and the two hand on the ends of my arms. The first year was a disaster......with sunbaked, concrete hard soil by mid-summer. Started using the Ruth Stout year-round mulching method, that fall. Cut in 1 1/2 tons of homemade compost and 1/2 ton of horse manure (aged), then covered it with 10 inches of costal bermuda hay....to "age" during the winter. Last year's garden was great with almost not weed problems. Didn't have to water a single time either. The earth under the mulch stays cool and moist. Highly recommend her book...."The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book". I don't have a very large garden....about 1500 square feet. It's a good bit of work, to begin with, but not much work in up-keep.
Appx. 1,500 sq ft vegetable garden. Special gardening interests is composting and year-round mulching. Use no power equipment, everything is done in the garden using hand tools, only.

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

Nice Boggy! Now that's what I'm talking about. A happy customer High 5 on the Stout teaching. :D

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

And Fukuoka-sensei was running a rice in summer, barley in winter farm at the same time Ruth was figuring it out for herself. The man never tilled or plowed for fifty years and ran one of the best farms in Japan. People studied Fukuoka-sans's system and just didn't get it; we still don't.

Less is more. The plant decides how to make the soil, just give it good tools to work with. Leave the soil to the plants; they do better making it in the long run.

I stick the fork in and wiggle it around a little bit. Done. That's my tilling.

Ruth Stout would be dissappointed with all that unecessary work.

Good stuff Gixx! Nice discussion... Thanks for the book recommendation, BB!

HG
Scott Reil

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

Too bad a new Ruth Stout book is around $200, though you can find used ones pretty cheap with some wear.

User avatar
boggybranch
Full Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 10:19 pm
Location: Ashford, AL (Zone 8b)

gixxerific wrote:Too bad a new Ruth Stout book is around $200, though you can find used ones pretty cheap with some wear.
Yea...got my copy off eBay for less than $20, incl s&h.......but I had to look and wait for a pretty good while to get it that cheap. That's my gardening "bible", for sure.

Have you checked out the 3 vids on youtube about her, filmed before she passed?
Appx. 1,500 sq ft vegetable garden. Special gardening interests is composting and year-round mulching. Use no power equipment, everything is done in the garden using hand tools, only.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Links to the youtube Ruth Stout videos were posted in this thread:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=111340&highlight=ruth+stout#111340

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

Well, I did till my garden in the spring last year, but by mid-summer, it became hard and compact. I don't have much organic matter in my soil at all right now, so I will probably have to till it again this summer.

I think it depends on what kind of soil you have. If it is new and you want to plant in it, you are going to have to loosen it some how. On the other hand, if you have really well amended soil, you may not have to till it at all, especially if you practice fall-mulching.

Your circumstances also dictate a lot. It is easier to have a small garden amend it and mulch it and harvest from it than it is to do that over several large acres.
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

User avatar
tomf
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3234
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 12:15 pm
Location: Oregon

garden5 wrote:Well, I did till my garden in the spring last year, but by mid-summer, it became hard and compact. I don't have much organic matter in my soil at all right now, so I will probably have to till it again this summer.

I think it depends on what kind of soil you have. If it is new and you want to plant in it, you are going to have to loosen it some how. On the other hand, if you have really well amended soil, you may not have to till it at all, especially if you practice fall-mulching.

Your circumstances also dictate a lot. It is easier to have a small garden amend it and mulch it and harvest from it than it is to do that over several large acres.
I add organics and till them in. When i started my vegi garden I added a 14 yard truck of 3 way mix, it cost $450 but wow it was magic and worked on a 75' by 50' garden. I think the big key is to till in organics. One other factor is not all of us have time to do every thing by hand and some of us have far to much land to keep up to work like we were in the suburbs. I could not keep up with out the use of tractors.

User avatar
Jbest
Senior Member
Posts: 209
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:47 pm
Location: Zone 5B Pennsylvania

One thing Ruth didn't tell us was that voles, moles and rodents love the heavy mulch. My uncle was into pretty heavy but eventually gave up because all root crops were partially eaten. A friend of mine tried it a few years ago with the same experience. With that much cover the critters are hard to control. John
Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting,
"Holy crap what a ride!!"

User avatar
Ozark Lady
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1862
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:28 pm
Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

I have not seen a mole nor their tunnel in years.

I did wonder, the photos of Ruth shows the whole area covered with hay... I thought... rats, snakes, lizards, spiders...

I know most of those visit our gardens, but I really prefer to see them, before they startle me.

For me, it is mulched beds, but clear paths. My permanent paths get like cement, due to the clay, and constant traffic.

But, no matter what... slugs are an issue with mulch, in my beds.
Slugs seemed to prefer my garlic bed... I didn't see any bites out of the garlic, but they sure were plentiful in that bed.

I wonder if tilling could be the answer for getting rid of slugs?
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

No tilling is not the answer to slugs. I have tilled the last couple of years and yes you can unearth a few but there will be more to come.

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Iron phosphate was my slug control last year. Worked fine, the plants use the leftover, and the carrier is pasta; not the sort of 'inert" ingredient I worry about... Emile Hazelip had her ducks, Fukuoka-san had his brown and black chickens; there are other ways to deal with slugs. A board layed flat in the path will have plenty of slugs under it in the AM; hand removal is simpler when they collect themselves for you...

John's concern on voles is noted; having lost a good deal of my "Fingerlings" and all the roots on my cukes last year (needless to say the tops did not fare well afterwords), this issue can be troublesome. Can't say I have a great answer yet; the electronic methods have proven useless, and trapping was spotty. The cats have been my best bet to date; even the blind one got a couple last year (we monitor her outdoor time closely, but encourage her to explore; she hit paydirt in the brush pile).

OL, those snakes are something I wish I had more of here; I have seen a few garter snakes, but miss the black racers that patrolled my garden space at the last house. No better vole control on the planet. We need to start recognizing our allies come in packaging we may not partucularly care for, but they are still allies...

HG
Scott Reil

User avatar
Jbest
Senior Member
Posts: 209
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:47 pm
Location: Zone 5B Pennsylvania

I am too old to be bouncing around behind a tiller so in the Fall of 2007 I converted half of my garden to raised beds. The beds are filled with 100% compost rich in HM. By mid April, Every thing is in place and ready to plant. A good amount of effort later I’m still hoping I did the right thing.
[img]https://www.jbest123.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/sfg12121.jpg[/img]
By mid June, I’m feeling very good about making the move to RBs. Some people say you can’t grow vegetables in 100% compost or you should have between 5% and 8% compost well these are growing in 100% compost. Every thing is doing well except for two boxes because of a pesky wabbit but I think he has moved on.
[img]https://www.jbest123.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/cabbage-egg321.jpg[/img]
[img]https://www.jbest123.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/broccoli-cauliflower321.jpg[/img]
Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting,
"Holy crap what a ride!!"

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

I did a raised bed for Mom last year and filled it with completely with good compost, and they had a banner year in one tiny bed. There is talk of a second this year, and my stepdad made like ten or twelve jars of pickles off of two bush cukes, they had maters all season, radishes, peppers, all sorts of goodies. In a 4' x 8' bed.

My vole issues were not in my raised beds but in the ground level ones at the back of the garden, not two feet away. I suspect voles do not like to be above ground level; the taters in my above-GL tater towers were untouched while the in-ground 'Fingerlings took quite a hit. Maybe there is our key to vole control...

HG
Scott Reil

User avatar
Ozark Lady
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1862
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:28 pm
Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

Aren't black racers, really aggressive, I mean, mean to people?

We do have black rat snakes, and unfortunately, they are not welcome here, too many times, I find hens they killed, and have found they can get inside 1" chicken wire and kill baby chicks. But, they can't get out after dinner. They have even gotten into my house, no idea how, but, one killed our cockatiel, and it was in a regular birdcage. Nope black snakes are not welcome here.

I allow hognose snakes, those are fun to play with, garters, ringnecks, green grass snakes... all those are welcome... I just prefer to spot them, before I pick one up. I picked up a ringneck last year, by accident... instant reaction... I threw him a bit abruptly. He forgave me, and I simply used a tool to move him out of my way, after I was over my fright.
But, he curled around my fingers, when I was not expecting it... ha ha

Iron phosphate, what would it be sold as? I have tried DE, egg shells, removing mulch, I haven't tried my ducks, I need some baby ones for that, the adult male muscoveys are quite heavy and would damage alot of crops in their vigor catching bugs. And the female and lightweight young muscoveys fly, so they would simply fly out at will. The quacking ducks don't seem very interested in bugs. I do have chickens that I simply can not keep out of the garden. The cages protect the lizards, frogs, and snakes from my chickens. But I suppose they also protect the slugs? But the worst slug bed, was not caged... hmmm

I have heard that plain old chewing gum is great to rid your yard or garden of moles.

Sorry, Gixx about going off topic in your thread.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

User avatar
Jbest
Senior Member
Posts: 209
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:47 pm
Location: Zone 5B Pennsylvania

Ozark Lady wrote:.Sorry, Gixx about going off topic in your thread.
Every gardening style has the flip side of the coin and I think all the discussion so far has been relevant to Till/No Till. John
Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting,
"Holy crap what a ride!!"

User avatar
Ozark Lady
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1862
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:28 pm
Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

You are right Jbest.
No matter whether you till, or don't till.
Both will have advantages, and disadvantages.

The trick is... or the talent is... or the circumstances are...
You must find the one that works best for you, in your little piece of the world. But, be open to try other ways, other experiments.

You know what? I would sit down, and make a list...
Pros and cons of tilling...
Then I would list them on each side...
See which one wins!

Then I would do most of the garden with the winner, but put in an experimental area, with the other... Keep logs, and at the end of the season... tally the results.

You would need to do this for a few years, to get a true tally for your location, your style, and your veggies.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Black rat snake is [url=https://www.snakesandfrogs.com/scra/snakes/brat.htm]Scotophus allegheniensis[/url], black racer is [url=https://www.snakesandfrogs.com/scra/snakes/racer.htm]Coluber constrictor[/url]. Both are somewhat aggressive, but so are humans. The former does have a noticed penchant for poultry and is sometimes called a chicken snake...

Our black racer lived in our old stone foundation and hunted in the walls of the house; you could hear the occasional murder and mayhem if you were listening at the right time. Now DW is deathly afraid of snakes (conditioned by her mother, who I'm sure was conditioned by hers), but learned to make peace with Blackie as we used to call the snake, actually having coffee with it some mornings, sitting on the back step as the snake sunned on the sill just a few feet away.

As soon as the handyman killed our snake (he was working in the basement as it crawled in to hunt) we were overrun by mice and rats and it was a prime reason why we moved. Blackie was our apical predator and three cats couldn't do the job that one snake was doing. Just a point to consider...

I miss that house and our "pet" rodent control, and would love to have one around here. I just don't think Fruity Bubblicious is going to have quite the same effect. I think we need to consider every apical predator to have value in vole control, but they are also chicken thieves (coyotes, foxes and snakes are the leading predators of both, I'd say). I understand there are some inherent prejudices here and don't suggest my vermin control methods are for everybody; I'd simply ask that you think hard before offing somebody who may well be doing you a world of good...
Scott Reil

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

I've heard of the Ruth Stout method before, and judging by the price of her book, it must be good.

Now, I have found that the easiest way is not always the best way. However, I'm noticing in gardening that there are frequent exceptions to this rule.

Is the Ruth Stout method another exception to this rule? That is, will a garden that is managed in the mulch and no-till perform (I know, that is probably not the right word, but it's the first that came to mind) below, on, or above par with a garden that is managed with the conventional tilling and weeding practices? I know that a garden managed this way will work, but how well; do you get better, lower, or the same yields?

I don't mean to criticize Mrs. Stout at all, especially since I have yet to actually read her book. Actually, I'm really intrigued by this method and would like to give it a try myself. I'm just curious to see if anyone has tried it compared to tilling and weeding, and what their results were.

Oh, and to add to the little mole-vole side-discussion; if you have a lot of these critters running around, you may attract foxes and coyotes. Just something to bear in mind if you have a lot of live stock or chickes, like OL.

Great discussion you started, Gix :).
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

This discussion is right on course, it's about gardening isn't it? :D That's all that matters.

I'm trying to get raised beds but that costs money, and please don't tell me how cheap it can be done, because every penny counts now. I'm working on it I do have a plan. Never fear. Than tilling will be no more. Heck it could very well be no more for the most part this year. I will be tilling up a section of yard for a new garden though it will be late and without proper time to bacterialize as you might say. It will be yet another experimental hope for the best mostly with pumpkins and whatever else I can shove in there.
Yes it will be hard for me not to till because that is what I'm used to, but people change and hopefully for the better. Looking at my main garden it does look pretty lovely and I really don't think it would be needed. Maybe a light raking to break up the horse cookies. Than another layer of compost. Never fear, EVER, it will be alright, as I often tell my wife: everything will be okay.

I don't have voles and the moles have stayed out of my yard so far and for the bug issue I have that under control with nature I believe. If not I will release my 4 yr old (in March) daughter who is the most bug killinest person I know. My 8 yr old boy screams like a girl for her to take care of ANY bug problem we have. :lol: I actually have to stop her at times from killing bugs. "That's a god bug Keira don't kill that" :P

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27743
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

That's right Gixx, train them up early to recognized good bugs and bad bugs, and they'll be spotting them before your aging eyes can focus on 'em. :lol:

User avatar
Ozark Lady
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1862
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:28 pm
Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

Gixx, you can build raised beds, without using beds.

Check out raised rows...

https://www.ehow.com/how_2300563_make-raised-row-garden.html :lol:

Many gardeners make a raised "bed" without the bed. The issue for me is keeping the edges up... erosion causes my raised area to fall, even in a bed.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

I already have raised beds minus the sideboards. I have added so much to the garden it is about 4 inches higher or more than the surrounding area. I just want more. And the way my ground is set up much more of this and it will wash away with the killer rains we get a lot of.

Been there done that, next. :D

Plus in order to get any height that way you loose square footage.

Thanks though

MichaelsMommy
Newly Registered
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:46 am
Location: Zone 3

Great thread guys! I plan to not til this year. Last year my garden was tilled in the spring and then I did some what raised rows. We will see how things do this year....

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

My raised beds are three years old, no sideboards and still great..

I hilled my rows and packed the sides with a tamp (like you use for paving). I pile my compost on top, so it stays permeable.

Minimal erosion, and I just tamp the sides again when they need it (like once last season).

EZ!

With the hay this year, it will be a snap...

HG
Scott Reil

User avatar
tomf
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3234
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 12:15 pm
Location: Oregon

I have had good luck with the mound garden method, it is a bit of work setting up but it did well.
Last year was the first year for my new garden, I added a lot to the soil before I started and yes I did till it. I have 3 neighbors and they use razed beds and all of them told me my garden was amazing and complimented me on how much it produced.
Some times razed beds get root bound and you need to break them up, a cultivator may be just the thing. My wife’s cousin has that problem and had to dig them out after a number of years. My wife’s cousin also grows tilled row crops and has animals, they are a bit more into self sufficiency then we are.

User avatar
boggybranch
Full Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 10:19 pm
Location: Ashford, AL (Zone 8b)

Last year (my first year using Ms Stout's method, exclusively) I did not experience any slug damage. Never even saw a slug, even when moving the mulch around while planting. I live in a very rural setting with lots of fields and woodlots close by. Never came across a snake, either. Now, I'm saying all this in a whisper, as it is my experience that when you say something like this....the critters sense, or hear it, and decide to gang up on you, just to "show you".

I have just posted an organic slug control that I picked up from a UK allotment gardening blog that might be helpful to those with slug problems...and don't like wasting their beer.
Appx. 1,500 sq ft vegetable garden. Special gardening interests is composting and year-round mulching. Use no power equipment, everything is done in the garden using hand tools, only.

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

tomf wrote:I have had good luck with the mound garden method, it is a bit of work setting up but it did well.
Last year was the first year for my new garden, I added a lot to the soil before I started and yes I did till it. I have 3 neighbors and they use razed beds and all of them told me my garden was amazing and complimented me on how much it produced.
Some times razed beds get root bound and you need to break them up, a cultivator may be just the thing. My wife’s cousin has that problem and had to dig them out after a number of years. My wife’s cousin also grows tilled row crops and has animals, they are a bit more into self sufficiency then we are.
A good alternative to tilling your raised bed is to plant a deep-rooted cover crop like buckwheat and rye. The deep roots help make air channels in the soil when they decay or you can pull them out to help loosen the soil.
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

TomF, that soil won't compact if you use organic fertilizers and don't walk on it. Ever. Chemical fertilizers do cause compaction; so does tilling.

Boggy, nice post. Beer wastage for slugs is reugnant to me as well, besides it can call slugs from three hundred yards away. Get your neighbors to do it...

G5, likewise a good post, although you wouldn't want to pull the covers, but cut them (leaves the organic content to enrich the soil and provide channels for the next crops roots to follow, and in the case of the buckwheat, leaves the nitrogen fixing nodules in the soil to supercharge things). Pulling would disturb and break up the fungal hyphae, and expose weed seed to resprout. Best to cut.

HG
Scott Reil

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

The Helpful Gardener wrote:TomF, that soil won't compact if you use organic fertilizers and don't walk on it. Ever. Chemical fertilizers do cause compaction; so does tilling.

Boggy, nice post. Beer wastage for slugs is reugnant to me as well, besides it can call slugs from three hundred yards away. Get your neighbors to do it...

G5, likewise a good post, although you wouldn't want to pull the covers, but cut them (leaves the organic content to enrich the soil and provide channels for the next crops roots to follow, and in the case of the buckwheat, leaves the nitrogen fixing nodules in the soil to supercharge things). Pulling would disturb and break up the fungal hyphae, and expose weed seed to resprout. Best to cut.

HG
You have it right as usual, HG.

I forgot to mention that the beer does draw slugs.

As far as the cover cropping is concerned, you can cut the plants of to leave the roots in the ground to decompose. You can then take the top growth and compost it...which can then be added to the bed to make it even more loamy and adds microbes which help work the soil and improve it in several ways....it is like a perfect circle. :D
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

User avatar
tomf
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3234
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 12:15 pm
Location: Oregon

The razed beds I am talking about that needed to be dug out as they got compacted and root bound were done 100% organic with no tilling.

My tilled garden produced better than the ones my neighbors had in razed gardens. The compost I added made a lot of difference. I was able to do a lot of the prep work with a tractor so it was less time consuming, right now I have so much going on I need all the time saving tools I can get. Now I am not saying good results can not be had from razed beds as I have seen it, I am saying it is not the only way. As time goes on I will be doing some of my planting the razed bed method my self, there are a number of crops I feel are more manageable that way.

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”