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Old 04-23-2008, 11:48 AM   #11
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i get my soil so fluffy that the planting beds are raised upwards of 8 inches to a foot over the non tilled areas. it definitely helps the roots to grow in my rocky, clay soil.
the neighborhood cats don't like to walk on it because they sink in.

another benefit of raising a bed by tilling it is that you can plant certain plants deeper, like tomatoes, and not worry that it's too deep and the roots will hit a clay layer about 2 feet down.

soil doesn't need to be tilled, necessarily, but it should be turned at least once (one shovel deep) to help loosen it, breaking the surface tension.
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Old 04-23-2008, 11:49 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by suziquzie View Post
It's very very fine sandy stuff. We added a pile of black dirt to it last year when we built it, so its a nice consistency now, but it could use another load of compost. I suppose thats better tilled in than just raked over the top?
Yes. Fine, sandy soil doesn't hold moisture very well, so the garden will need to be watered more frequently. But if you mix compost and/or good loamy soil into it, it will change the composition of the sandy soil to be more of what you want, and it will hold water better. The roots will be able to go deeper and still get water, and the plants will be healthier.
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Old 04-23-2008, 12:14 PM   #13
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Here is an article. Although it is written about Alaska, it could be Houston.

http://www.plantea.com/no-tilling.htm

I am trying to convert my own gardening practises into more environmental friendly ones. I'm not lunatic about it. It's worth a thought.
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Old 04-23-2008, 12:23 PM   #14
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Clearly we need to define terms I wasn't thinking of roto-tilling with a machine when I responded. I was thinking more of what Bucky described - turning over, by hand with garden tools, the top few inches of soil and breaking it up a bit. We only roto-tilled when we first started our gardens 12-15 years ago, to get rid of the grass roots.

We try to garden in environmentally friendly ways, too. That's one reason why it's a good idea to incorporate manure into the soil, especially sandy soil like Suzie has: Then the garden will require less fertilizer later.

BT, DH built a raised bed with railroad ties, to make a square garden. Then entire garden is about six inches above the ground, and surrounded by bricks to help keep weeds out. Raising a garden is a very good way to go
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Old 04-23-2008, 11:41 PM   #15
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We don't even own a tiller. We just use a stir-up hoe to break it up. When we lived in Evanston we had sandy soil, it was great stuff to work in and easy to break up, everything grew beyond belief there, especially the veggies. When we moved to Cicero it was almost all clay. Since DW was planting only prairie plants, she didn't have to turn the soil, just dig em in. Now the soil is black, rich, and easy to work with. She added mulch once I think, and over the years spread out compost out around all the beds, but that is all she had to do. The prairie plants and worms did the rest for her. Oh, and she would leave some leaves on the beds. I don't know which ones, as there are some that smother and she rakes out, but others that don't and she leaves in.
I think though, if we had tried to put a veggie garden in at the time, we would have been forced to till and add some compost or planting soil to the mix.
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Old 04-24-2008, 05:49 AM   #16
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I don't till or hoe but plant up with mulch. It seems to work generally but not always. I have at best a khaki thumb. My strawberries and pittosporums (not all, but most) die irrespective of what I do!
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:39 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by suziquzie View Post
Not really an argument.... more of a debate.
DH seems to think I need to till the garden over to "prep" before I can plant in it.
I say it's all dirt, I can just plunk my stuff in.
Any thoughts?

DH is right...till the garden first. It's not so much for turning up new dirt as it is for loosening the soil. Your plants will really appreciate it.
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Old 04-25-2008, 12:28 AM   #18
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The notion that tilling the soil is necessary, or much less even beneficial, is totally bogus! The very idea is absolutely ludicrous!!!

Men bonded together centuries ago to create and perpetuate this myth as a method to spend all of their daylight hours walking around in fields behind an animal dragging a stick stuck in the ground (until the invention of the plow, and then the invention of the tractor) so they could spend as little time with their wives as possible. These days, farmers spend massive amounts of money on tractors, and the fuel to run them, for the same purpose.

Yes, suzi - DH is right. Not only does tilling the soil make it less dense so the roots your plants produce have less resistance to their growth - the voids (air pockets) created in the soil contain water better than in compacted (not tilled) soil.
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Old 04-25-2008, 04:09 AM   #19
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I like to loosen the soil and then add compost and manure and extra dirt---we have the awful gumbo clay so the new plants are quite appreciative for the extra help. I'd kill to have a little sand in my garden, too.
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Old 04-25-2008, 03:53 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Michael in FtW View Post
The notion that tilling the soil is necessary, or much less even beneficial, is totally bogus! The very idea is absolutely ludicrous!!!

Men bonded together centuries ago to create and perpetuate this myth as a method to spend all of their daylight hours walking around in fields behind an animal dragging a stick stuck in the ground (until the invention of the plow, and then the invention of the tractor) so they could spend as little time with their wives as possible. These days, farmers spend massive amounts of money on tractors, and the fuel to run them, for the same purpose.

Yes, suzi - DH is right. Not only does tilling the soil make it less dense so the roots your plants produce have less resistance to their growth - the voids (air pockets) created in the soil contain water better than in compacted (not tilled) soil.

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