We are getting ready to move to middle TN where we’ll have fertile creek bottom land for our garden and orchard. I’ve heard it is best practice to plow this fall and allow it to mellow over winter. Would you agree or disagree?
What's on the plot now?...If it's pasture/meadow, you may want to consider nuking it with glyphosate. Just plowing doesn't kill the grass roots and they will be a continuing source of sorrow for you.
One would think that, theoretically, turning the soil over now would, in fact, give that organic stuff more time to "mellow," but given the much slower rate of metabolism in cold soil over the winter, I'm not sure it makes any real difference if you wait 'til spring or not.
Like I always say, for us amateurs who don't have to squeeze every last penny of profit out of our land, let Mother Nature worry about the details.
Unless you are thoroughly familiar with your land and soil, I think you would be wise to wait until springtime to plow. Use your time to do other more vital things--checking your furnace, water, barn, fences--and get your equipment ready to do a quick job next year during an early weather window. In the meantime you should be doing a soil test, observing how the rainwater runs off or gets absorbed, if that land is at the bottom of a hillside which would wash newly plowed soil into the creek. You could also dig some holes to see the depth of your subsoil--I've heard that some Tennessee soils are only a foot above limestone....don't know about yours, of course.
If the intended area has any slope to it, you might want to think of terracing or countour stripping to catch and hold any water and to prevent washouts throughout the season.
Where I'm from (Indiana clay), we would try to plow in the fall and then the sticky clay clumps would break down (mellow) with the winter freeze and thaw cycle so that a discing would be enough to get early crops planted. In just a few years, the hillsides turned into clay knobs and the good soil eventually formed new marshlands on the Louisana coast.
My thanks to all for some great advice. I am inclined to plow in November, but not sure about glyphosate first. I am not opposed to chemicals but wonder if it would be worth the effort. Won’t the newly unearthed seedbed send forth its growth next spring and every spring there after? I’ve also heard crab grass is a problem in my area…
I have found that when I turn grassland into a vegetable garden, that the pressure from pests is pretty bad. See. I have removed the grass roots that they would usually feed on, and their choice is to eat the roots of my vegetables or starve. And they do not choose to starve.
By the second year that problem no longer exists.
I cannot offer a solution as I have not found one. I just know that whenever I either move or expand a garden, that my yield the first year will be puny
Glyphosate doesn't damage the aquifer. It adheres to soil particles and stays put until it degrades in the soil. It is not picked up from the soil by plants. It must be absorbed by the foliage and transported to the roots where it does its deed.
I haven't used it. on my garden. I have time to cultivate and manually pull weeds & grasses, but I don't have to worry about 600ac of row crops-- just a few 1000 sf of garden....But I first busted the pasture sod 5 yrs ago and the grass problem hasn't gotten any better.
I will admit to using GrassBGone as a last resort against some really nasty, skin slicing clump grass we have here. One treatment only on the clump and that clump is gone. I would not use that stuff on a large scale, just on the tough spots.
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