A total change in my approach to a garden.


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I enjoy the word scaving. I have no idea what it means. It is titillating as a result. I notice nobody in the thread has mentioned the nature of a specific plant, and since their are many I want to point out the omission.
 
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I tilled my garden once and that was when I first started it; I needed to loosen the sun-baked, heavily packed sand and remove all the Bermuda grass/roots. Not a single worm lived in that soil -- it was just too sandy and lifeless.

I heavily mulched it...long story short... It's now black gold with numerous soil organisms, including worms, live in and I never amended the soil with anything other than yard and kitchen waste and the chop and drop method. Absolutely no need to till any longer and that's a good thing, because I broke my tiller cutting through all that "wire", i.e. Bermuda grass root system.

I garden much like this guy

 
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Thanks for your insight johnny. I am hoping that the Daikon radishes will help aerate the soil. By leaving them until next April they should reach a length of 6 to 16” and break up the soil. When I remove them they will go into the compost. I have a lot of wood chips, composted leaves, grass clippings and manure that will go between the rows of vegetables next summer to help keep the weeds down.
 
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I enjoy the word scaving. I have no idea what it means.
I think Robert meant 'scathing' DirtMechanic.

I don't really qualify to speak here as I rarely grow vegetables. I have gardened on various soils and find they have different needs regarding nutrients. Working them is a different matter and I'm with the 'old school' on that, they need to be aerated and mulched, so in turn dug over to achieve this. Any soil left will compact eventually and particularly with clay - become solid. We know that to keep a lawn in good condition it needs aerating to reduce compaction, also feeding, healthy grass is only as good as the soil it's growing in.
 
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Thanks for your insight johnny. I am hoping that the Daikon radishes will help aerate the soil. By leaving them until next April they should reach a length of 6 to 16” and break up the soil. When I remove them they will go into the compost. I have a lot of wood chips, composted leaves, grass clippings and manure that will go between the rows of vegetables next summer to help keep the weeds down.
I thought the idea was to nip the radishes and leave them to rot in place?
 
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Since I now have two areas of radishes I will try it both ways. Thanks for the advice DM.
A hormone has been identified that regulates and signals mycorrizal growth between plant roots and fungi. Here is the 2006 article but it requires a patient reader. I am not sure if one can purchase it nor its uses as of yet. I guess its a big deal in the no till area because it is that web that makes things possible. I am interested to continue reading about the development of uses for growers. Once again I know so little....
 
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In my fourth years involvement in Horticulture I have never heard anyone say that their soil is so good that they don't need to dig it. This statement quite bluntly is complete and utter nonsense and goes against good Horticultural practice. Sorry to sound so scaving, I must explain my reasons herein. Firstly, we need to get air into the soil to allow winter conditions to break down harmful bacteria and control annual weed growth. Secondly by turning the soil in Autumn we are improving the structure regardless of how fine or fertile it is. We are also mixing any ameliorants in whatever form they take. You will not upset destroy or offend the worms, as winter progressses and the soil gets colder the worms will Bury deeper, thus working the soil.Undug soil will eventually pan and cause disease problems. I have even seen panning on sandy soil which on the face of it is very strange. Hand digging with a spade is best on light soils, it is good to be able to turn the soil not least to get rid of pernicious weed roots, those long white almost tuberous roots.
I concur. Don't worry about the worms, you don't kill them even when you cut them in two pieces. Aeration is more important, especially if you don't mulch heavily, year-around. Just plain, ordinary rain compacts soil over time. Corn is wind pollinated, so plant in blocks, not rows. (The squirrels like it better, too). Better stop putting more N on that plot, too, or you'll just grow foliage. You already have too much N. Wood chips consume N and aid tilth.

I'm old and I have a gentleman's garden now. I have three 12' x 30" plots with 24" x 24" concrete patio blocks in-between as walkways. Three of the plots have two 2" dia x 8' pipes sunk 24" deep, centered, and 8' apart. I have two 6' x 4' sections of chain-link gate that I stand-up 6' high and tie to each other in the middle and to the permanent posts at each end, all with electrical cable zip ties. (They were driveway gates) I grow snap peas on them every year and leaf lettuce outboard either side and at the ends. I move them to the next plot for a 3 year rotation. I grow a tomato up one pole and a couple cucumbers up the other pole and leaf lettuce in-between.

My son had a stand-alone ~10' square patio type cover that blew down one year, and being a habitual junk collector, I took his hardware and reassembled it into two columns by putting two corner legs together to form a 7' tall x 12" x 12" box, again, strapped together with zip ties on one adjoining corner and open on the opposite corner. that allows me to slip the assembly around the buried pipe and strap the corner in-place up and down the length of the pipe forming a tomato cage and a cucumber cage on the other pipe. It comes off each autumn and I lay both on a long table on my covered back porch over winter. They are made of lightweight square metal tubing and I want them to outlive me.

The 3rd plot is used for cuttings, seedlings, and growing-on young bonsai with the pots sunk.

Plot #4 is outboard and fronts on the yard chain-link fence (48" tall). The other side of the fence is an irregular area covered with stones that fronts my seawall on a canal. I grow Jack-o-lantern pumpkins for my grandchildren and guide the vines out on the stone area. I had to lay fallow this year to beat the bugs, but I had two potted fig trees in that plot. (I bought two big pumpkins locally and put them where the kids usually get them, and they didn't know the difference.):devil:

Each of the 4 plots are surrounded by vinyl coated wire mesh fencing 18" tall with 1" square openings. Before I retired, a guy in a shop a few doors down from mine made machine guards out of this material. We shared a dumpster and he would throw away odd drops (a drop is what's left over when you cut the size piece you need out of a 4' x 8' sheet of stock). Naturally, I collected the best ones, like a dozen 18" x 8', or 24" x 4', or even bigger pieces, in quantity. When I closed my shop and retired, they came home with me. I didn't know what I was going to do with them until the rabbits got me the first year in my new home. The rabbits don't get my lettuce, anymore.

I also have an asparagus patch, 18' x 6' with cement pads surrounding it. I never walk on dirt unless I'm turning it with a fork. In fact, I can do most of that from the walkways. There is a narrow path of cement steps down the center of the pumpkin plot, too. I keep leaves from the prior autumn to mulch after turning in spring. Always, complete mulch cover, year-around. I over-winter my hardy bonsai in 3 plots. You always have to walk some place, so having permanent dedicated growing and dedicated walkways works just fine.

A gentleman's garden for an old man who's been around the block. I used to grow more varieties on more area, but now I only grow what can't be beat by store-bought. Squash is great, but they take up a lot of space and in-season they're cheap. Green peppers from the store are 3 times the size and quality of mine, so none of those. Aren't I pleased with myself?:smuggrin:
 
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As a prairie horticulturalist and growing up learning to and farming with my father and older brothers and after leaving the farm and seeing the results from our renters switching to no till crop farming, I have to throw my support behind no till. But I will add it depends on the climate and lay of the land.
There are pros and cons to no till in a big operation, in a vegetable garden if your soil isn't in a wet area and you can keep up with the weeding, I see no cons. The worms will do their job keeping the soil from being compacted and one can always top dress building up the soil.
Up here I would still till my garden to get that soil warmed up as soon as possible, and on the farm there was about a 5 acre patch in one field that stayed boggy due to spring melt and the creek ran through it as well. That kind of area we always used the disc and then the cultivator to dry it out to be seeded.
I agree. If you have airless, compact clay soil, it will take a long time to get air to the soil even if you slap a foot of manure on top for one season. Also, when it rains, it is like a pond and after living 23 years here, the clay soil in my garden is still slippery when we have continuous rain for a few days. Research shows that disturbing the soil by tilling or ploughing damage the bacteria in the soil; but let's put it this way, when your soil is solid clay clog, there are very few bacteria able to move around the brick like clay. Think it's a good idea to adjust our practices to the type of soil, aspects and the amount of rainfall.
 
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I feel sorry for you guys that have clay. It takes a ton of work and woodchips to change clay into a good garden tilth. And time, too. But once you have done that, you've got something good. I've been lucky to only have sandy loam, twice. My first home was built on an old potato farm, and my current home on cut-and-fill lowland, so I've been blessed. As I understand no-till farming, it does not apply favorably to gardening on a small scale, EXCEPT, as I do something similar, as above, with my concrete walkways, which shed water into the beds, too. The typical garden in a subdivision or city is protected from eroding winds by buildings and shrubs and trees, etc. Likewise, whatever washes away from heavy rain can't get too far.

My problem with no-till as the Link explains it is twofold: while farmland IS subject loose topsoil blowing away, gardens don't have winds similar in natural to vast, open plowed fields. A rototiller is not comparable to a tractor in weight or compacting, either. If a "garden" is comparable to a farm, then I'm excluding that from my commentary, here. Please do not call me out because your 3 acre "garden" is on the lee side of the Rockies at 10° tilt and you get Chinook winds. Big rains on loose soil on open land does move downhill. But that's not applicable to a city-size garden either because they are usually cut-outs within a lawn, or at least a yard. Whatever washes away from heavy rain can't get too far. I can understand that the trade-off between land blowing and washing away verses allowing more weeds to grow is a toss-up, and I don't envy the decision maker because I consider that to be a lose-lose situation. Preventing weeds from getting to seed stage is paramount in my whole yard. Weed seeds blow in or are brought by my feathered friends and my job is to spot weeds before they do their duty. Sometimes I even sneak into my neighbors' yards to pull an offender. A good defense requires less offense.:smug:

Now for the meat: worms love loose soil, the looser, the better. If the soil is turned to the depth of a digging fork and then covered with a heavy mulch year-around it will be a worm farm and will NOT compact much at all for a year or more. Of equal importance, microbes also thrive in such conditions and turning with a fork absolutely, positively, with out reservation, damages NOTHING, especially microbe colonies. The combination of aerating with a fork or even with a rototiller every year and covering with a heavy mulch (I use leaves and grass clipping) is the very best you can do for your soil. Period.:smug:
 
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I feel sorry for you guys that have clay. It takes a ton of work and woodchips to change clay into a good garden tilth. And time, too. But once you have done that, you've got something good. I've been lucky to only have sandy loam, twice. My first home was built on an old potato farm, and my current home on cut-and-fill lowland, so I've been blessed. As I understand no-till farming, it does not apply favorably to gardening on a small scale, EXCEPT, as I do something similar, as above, with my concrete walkways, which shed water into the beds, too. The typical garden in a subdivision or city is protected from eroding winds by buildings and shrubs and trees, etc. Likewise, whatever washes away from heavy rain can't get too far.

My problem with no-till as the Link explains it is twofold: while farmland IS subject loose topsoil blowing away, gardens don't have winds similar in natural to vast, open plowed fields. A rototiller is not comparable to a tractor in weight or compacting, either. If a "garden" is comparable to a farm, then I'm excluding that from my commentary, here. Please do not call me out because your 3 acre "garden" is on the lee side of the Rockies at 10° tilt and you get Chinook winds. Big rains on loose soil on open land does move downhill. But that's not applicable to a city-size garden either because they are usually cut-outs within a lawn, or at least a yard. Whatever washes away from heavy rain can't get too far. I can understand that the trade-off between land blowing and washing away verses allowing more weeds to grow is a toss-up, and I don't envy the decision maker because I consider that to be a lose-lose situation. Preventing weeds from getting to seed stage is paramount in my whole yard. Weed seeds blow in or are brought by my feathered friends and my job is to spot weeds before they do their duty. Sometimes I even sneak into my neighbors' yards to pull an offender. A good defense requires less offense.:smug:

Now for the meat: worms love loose soil, the looser, the better. If the soil is turned to the depth of a digging fork and then covered with a heavy mulch year-around it will be a worm farm and will NOT compact much at all for a year or more. Of equal importance, microbes also thrive in such conditions and turning with a fork absolutely, positively, with out reservation, damages NOTHING, especially microbe colonies. The combination of aerating with a fork or even with a rototiller every year and covering with a heavy mulch (I use leaves and grass clipping) is the very best you can do for your soil. Period.:smug:
Meh. Worms love to eat and they eat bacteria. They consist of a mouth, gut and pooper. Feed the bacteria some molasses and the worm mounds appear like magic in clay without mulch.
 
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Yes, clay loam is as good as any other, maybe better. But, gotta get something in-between them particles, like humus bearing fibers. Mulch turn, mulch turn, mulch turn, ad infinitum.
 
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Meh. Worms love to eat and they eat bacteria. They consist of a mouth, gut and pooper. Feed the bacteria some molasses and the worm mounds appear like magic in clay without mulch.
:rolleyes:I'm beginning to think you don't got no mulch down there. ?
 
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:rolleyes:I'm beginning to think you don't got no mulch down there. ?
Oh thats not the problem. The problem is if you put mulch down there then 6 months later it has been eaten away to nothing. It is hard to impress outsiders with the heat energy and humidity levels we experience that contribute to the culinary spectacle that goes on in the top layers of this southern clay.
 
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Oh thats not the problem. The problem is if you put mulch down there then 6 months later it has been eaten away to nothing. It is hard to impress outsiders with the heat energy and humidity levels we experience that contribute to the culinary spectacle that goes on in the top layers of this southern clay.
It's incredible how fast all the soil organisms eat away the mulch in my yard; that's why I got a pick up truck, got sick of using a wheel barrel. I did one trip with ~30-bags of leaves that was a 1/2-mile from my house....that sucked!!
 
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In my fourth years involvement in Horticulture I have never heard anyone say that their soil is so good that they don't need to dig it. This statement quite bluntly is complete and utter nonsense and goes against good Horticultural practice. Sorry to sound so scaving, I must explain my reasons herein. Firstly, we need to get air into the soil to allow winter conditions to break down harmful bacteria and control annual weed growth. Secondly by turning the soil in Autumn we are improving the structure regardless of how fine or fertile it is. We are also mixing any ameliorants in whatever form they take. You will not upset destroy or offend the worms, as winter progressses and the soil gets colder the worms will Bury deeper, thus working the soil.Undug soil will eventually pan and cause disease problems. I have even seen panning on sandy soil which on the face of it is very strange. Hand digging with a spade is best on light soils, it is good to be able to turn the soil not least to get rid of pernicious weed roots, those long white almost tuberous roots.
Did you not absorb the fact that his soil is riddled with worms?
They aerate and lighten the soil to prevent panning, providing nutrients as they do.
 
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It's incredible how fast all the soil organisms eat away the mulch in my yard; that's why I got a pick up truck, got sick of using a wheel barrel. I did one trip with ~30-bags of leaves that was a 1/2-mile from my house....that sucked!!
As far as I'm concerned, the faster your mulch is eaten away, the happier you should be..
I don't think you'll even have to use fertiliser, but if you do, a little woodash and urine will suffice.
 
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As far as I'm concerned, the faster your mulch is eaten away, the happier you should be..
I don't think you'll even have to use fertiliser, but if you do, a little woodash and urine will suffice.
I agree. I have an interest in biochar as it helps slow the leaching effects of rain but that activity has to have some type of fuel.
 

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