What do you dig your garden with?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by homebirtha, Apr 18, 2005.

  1. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    We're putting in garden space in what has been lawn. I wanted a tractor-pulled tiller, but geez, they're pricey. Now I'm thinking one- or two-bottom plow and a disc. We have an older 20hp compact diesel tractor. I think it will pull a plow, but I'm not positive. Any other suggestions or thoughts?

    Oh, we're considering pigs for future tilling needs, but need something done sooner.
     
  2. whiterock

    whiterock Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I usually use a walk behind tiller for the whole thing. For beds I will dig by hand when I have the time and the ground is "right". If I had my druthers I would have a bigger garden space in another area and work it with a small tractor and farm type implements. Since I have the space but not the equipment or funds to get them I will keep on keeping on.
    Ed
     

  3. Ozarks_1

    Ozarks_1 Well-Known Member

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    I've got both a single bottom plow and a disc. I prefer using the disc because there's not all that much soil on top of clay in my area. The disc seems to pull easier than the plow as well.
     
  4. TexCountryWoman

    TexCountryWoman Gig'em

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    Blood, sweat and tears. I use a hoe and shovel and muscle. I can't afford any fancy, schmancy equipment. I live in sugar-sand so at least it's not hard dirt. But I have used pigs in the past and that is the best way to go. They will kill ever last weed, eat ever last root, plow, fertilize and you will have the best garden ever and a freezer full of meat to boot....Diane
     
  5. susanneb

    susanneb Well-Known Member

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    I spare my back and avoid digging whenever possible.

    When planting a garden over erstwhile lawn, I lay down large sheets of cardboard (overlapping very generously...skimping gets you nowhere), then cover deeply with manure, leaf mold, lawn clippings, kitchen compost, etc.

    Some use newspaper, but it breaks down too quickly. By the time the cardboard breaks down, the grass is long gone, and you don't dig up all those old weed seeds that have laid dormant for ages..

    Cardboard is also great for suppressing weeds under shrubs. Lay it close, but not touching the trunk(s) and cover with mulch...again, don't pile the mulch up against the trunk.

    If hay or other seeds in the manure begin to sprout, put down a generous layer of newspaper and continue your compost lasagna.

    (You can do a search for "lasagna gardening" for a more detailed approach...I tend to keep it simple.
     
  6. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    That's right, NOTHING -- NO till, then:
    • Cut the grass,
    • Put down 3" or 4" of compost or well-rotted manure,
    • Put down four layers of newspaper,
    • Wet them down,
    • Put on 8" of straw, moldy hay, leaves, etc for mulch,
    • Dig hole just for the seeds and plants you will plant this year,
    • Add more mulch as needed,
    • If up north like we are, start garden a little later, or remove the mulch at the planting area one or two weeks before planting, to let soil warm up,
    • The soil gets worked up well and there is no disruption to the rich upper layer, worms do a lot of the work, I think, and the newspaper adds to the soil, and helps keep out the weeds -- still a few -- but the newspaper blocks them -- mostly.

    That's it, it works, we use drip irrigation with that system, less weeds, and if put drip, or the pump, on a timer, then you don't have to be there to water.

    [​IMG]
    This Was a Hay Field The Year Before Last Year, Now a Garden, Cucumbers, Lettuce, and Garlic, Last July, 2004

    Good Luck with NO Till,

    Alex
     
  7. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    I'm another no till advocate. I got rid of all my digging tools and won't buy anymore for the garden.
     
  8. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    I park the chicken tractor for an extened period of time where I plan to have a new bed - we built the thing so it would be the right size for all my beds.

    Once the chickens have eaten the bugs, vegetation and weed seeds, I follow the no till method mentioned above.
    Can't rush this method, though, the chicken manure can't be too fresh when you start planting, even though it's buried. I wait at least a week for the whole thing to settle.
     
  9. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    I love the idea of no till. But I was thinking I would have needed to start earlier for this year's garden. So do you plant the seeds in the mulch/compost/straw, or dig down to the soil? Plus I don't have enough compost, mulch, etc. to cover the area we want to plant.

    I think we'll definitely use this method at some point, but I just didn't think it would work this year???
     
  10. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    No-till is great, and as soon as I get the raised beds I made last year leveled out, that's what I'll be doing.

    I think you probably still have time to do no-till this year. But if you feel like you need to till an area for an early garden, leaving the no-till for a later garden, do you really need to buy a tractor? Do you need the tractor for other purposes? Because I think it would be a waste of resources to buy a tractor just for a one-time tilling of part of your garden. You should be able to either hire someone to do it, or rent a tiller or tractor-tiller from one of those rental places.

    Kathleen
     
  11. hollym

    hollym Well-Known Member

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    I just bought 'Lasagna Gardening' and in it she says that you CAN plant in a new lasagna bed, although it's best to wait a year? I am experimenting with it. I do dig a hole in the bed and fill it with compost, then am planting the plants in that and pulling the hay back over it. Crossed fingers!

    Dug for years, wore out many shovels, I actually broke a fiberglass handle two weeks ago trying to get out one of our many big rocks. I don't know that I'll ever dig again if this method works for me. She had me at "Rocks aren't a problem because you are building UP!" !!!!!

    I've also read that you can cut the sod, flip it over, and plant corn and stuff on that. I'd mulch it real heavily though. Maybe a combination of that and a lasagna bed?

    hollym
     
  12. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    We planted the first year, it worked OK, better the second -- true with any method.

    Though we have a huge -- you would say it was unlimited if you saw it -- piles of well-rotted manure from 40 years of the neighbors 200 head of cattle. So, we put down a lot; like I said 4", and that was probably enough to get the plants started, and the process going below the surface.

    Give it a try,

    Alex
     
  13. perennial

    perennial Well-Known Member

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    I have the opposite problem - my kids love to dig holes. We are trying to
    sell our house so we had to "fix" the raised bed garden. In one day, they
    spent about 5 hours digging a canal system which atleast 2 feet deep.
    After which they filled with water and dug some more.

    Now i have the soil smoothed over and it's such a drag not to take
    advantage of all that tilled soil because we will be moving in June.


    So, if you have kids around who want a "play" spot, i would let them
    dig.
     
  14. kosh

    kosh Well-Known Member

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    I'm not tilling my soil either. I determined my garden area. fenced it in (too keep the dogs and chickens out of it). then put a layer of cardboard to cover the grass as this was previously lawn. After that i covered the cardboard with a layer of spring lawn rakings (pine needles, leaves, dead grass, pine cones, small twigs). Then i put my raised bed frames in, filled with a layer of horse manure, then topped that with a few inches of compost. so by the time all of the beds are in, the paths will be mulched already as well.
     
  15. BertaBurtonLake

    BertaBurtonLake Well-Known Member

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    I love the idea of a no-till garden so much, I put in raised beds last year. They measure 4'x8' with a pea gravel path between. This spring, all I had to do to "work" them was top them off with some leaf mold mixed with a little peat and vermiculite and sratch around with a potato rake. Can't wait to get my seeds in them in a couple of weeks.

    Warm regards,

    ~Berta
     
  16. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have a Rotovator for the back of our Kubota tractor; does a great job plus DH does alot of neighbors gardens,too. But we really don't have that much area to till now as have put in 10 3'x16' raised beds this year...just the corn patch left to till. Have a Troy Bilt tiller and a Mantis that I use in my one perenial garden nursery patch. The rocks are sooooo bad here that raised beds are the only solution. To think we BOUGHT rocks in MI to build a fireplace!!! DEE
     
  17. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    Kathleen, we already have the tractor. The only thing I was thinking of buying was a used moldboard plow, so maybe $100 to $150. But now I'm thinking we'll hold off on the plow and try the no-till way. DH just reminded me that we've got quite a bit of rotting hay back in the woods from the previous owner.

    Thanks everyone!
     
  18. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    I poked around the web and read more about lasagna gardening (and put the book on hold at the library), and I have a question. She alternates each layer with several inches of peat moss. I'm not crazy about all that peat moss, since I'd have to buy it. Does the well-rotted manure replace the peat moss in your plans? What else could I use, since I'll be planting in it right away? A load of screened top soil? Compost?
     
  19. MaKettle

    MaKettle Well-Known Member

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    ;If I dig, it is with a fork. I mulch with newspaper piled with old hay. Problem is, once the old hay is all dry and crumbly, the 35 mph and + winds that blow through here send it into the next county. Still, it beats spading up the entire garden patch. Mostly "just" dig out the perennial weeds, like dock and dandelion, repaper and remulch. Finding enough mulch is the big problem. It takes bales and bales to keep it at a depth that will deter weeds.
     
  20. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    There's a book by Ruth Stout you should read. I can't believe I can't remember the name of it, it's what started me on no till gardening years ago. Someone here will know the book or you can google her name. She only used hay or maybe straw for mulch, don't remember that either! The first year she put the mulch over grass she would add some blood meal for nitrogen, but she said after that it wasn't needed. I think she mulched about a foot deep. Her book is really interesting to read. She was a tough old cookie - she gardened by herself well into her 80's.
    We use barn bedding and old hay. It's what we have. Lots of cows, horses, goats and a dh who cuts too much hay. If you could just find a source of manure and use the old hay you have you'd be set. Don't be afraid of the manure burning stuff, just put it on the ground and cover it up with hay. The critters in the soil start breaking it down right away. It's not like you're tilling it in where it can burn the roots. I wouldn't put really fresh manure on a new seed bed though.
    It's a little easier to work on your mulching when you don't have lots of plants to get started. Do what you can this year, then when you're done in the fall mulch your garden about a foot thick and let it get busy. You won't recognize your soil when you pull the mulch back next spring!.
    BTW, this is the second time I've read about using pigs to clean out a garden. after a day of digging dock it sounds like a pretty good idea!