Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Easy Garden Changes Tip #6: Rethink Tilling

This post is part of a series of Easy Changes to Make Your Garden Act More Like Nature.  For the full story, start at the beginning with Tip #1, Get Rid of Bare Earth.

Tip #6: Rethink Tilling

Garden Tilling Service

Why do we till the ground?  To break up hard soil clumps, to displace weeds or grass, to give the soil a flush of nitrogen from the air to encourage rapid plant growth, or to establish nice, straight lines to plant?  Or maybe just because that's what most of the garden books say to do, and that's what "everybody" does in the spring.  After all, if you can rent a rototiller, you should, right?

Interestingly, nature doesn't generally till.  Sure, some pigs root around in the forest, some birds scratch at the surface, but in general, the surface of the earth doesn't get overturned once or twice a year, and yet it does a mighty fine job of growing plants.  It also does a mighty fine job of building soil, while modern agriculture is destroying soil at a remarkable pace.

There are many smarter and more experienced people than me who think that tilling should be a thing of the past, so I won't reinvent the wheel.  Instead, check out this summary statement of why tilling is harmful to the soil, or this how-to for reducing weeds by eliminating tilling.

Besides saving me plenty of time, not tilling has helped me to reduce weeds, keep my soil biome healthy, and keep my mulch on the surface, where it belongs!

One more tip left: #7: Use More Layers

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