Talk to me about "no till" gardens

Ridgerunner

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You are probably not doing as much harm as you think. If you cut an earthworm in half the head portion will often grow a new tail section. The tail section will not grow a new head section so you are not multiplying them, but you are not killing them all, even if you cut them in two. If you grind them up they probably will not regenerate.
 

flowerbug

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when i'm out weeding a garden i'm usually sitting on a ground pillow so as i am working around that area and if i am weeding other than scraping the surface (like if i am digging up a deeper rooted dandelion) then i will often observe worms running away on the surface. most the time i just take them and put them back in the area i've loosened up so they're not exposed to the birdies. i guess i should have said crawling away. :)

for a normal smaller earthworm this is ok.

for a larger worm like a night crawler you want to give them more than just a little cover as it will take them some time to re-excavate a new burrow.

for the regeneration of chopped worms issue there are studies on that as to how much damage you can do to a worm and have it still survive.

i also know that older worms don't do all that well when transplanted into a new location. the worms that are the smallest or those still in cocoons have the best chances of surviving. this of course varies by species and conditions... the closer you match between source and transplant location in conditions the better it goes. just like an organ transplant...
 

so lucky

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I have been a "no till" gardener for several years. Because I just didn't have a tiller. I would dig and turn over the soil in the row by hand, then after planting, add more newspaper, cardboard and straw to the whole garden.
This method really cut down on the weeds and the need to water, but the trade-off was that it gave excellent cover for harmful bugs to hide, and multiply. As a result, I got very little edible produce from the garden. Every tomato was pock-marked by bugs sticking their nasty little beaks in to the tomato and leaving poison that would make the tomato rot quickly. Green beans--after the peak picking, the rest got so many bites they didn't even look like a bean anymore. Squash bugs....Oh the horror!! on my zucchini! I used the least harmful (to me) insecticides I could find, but need to find something that actually works. IDK, maybe the Spinosad was old?

So, I am trying something different this year. Only deep digging on those crops that have deeper root systems. I got a cultivator, and am using it to turn under the debris that is left after I raked the whole garden free of straw, pine needles, pine shavings and partially decomposed cardboard.

I will be using soaker hoses, and plenty fertilizer. We'll see what happens.
 

flowerbug

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I have been a "no till" gardener for several years. Because I just didn't have a tiller. I would dig and turn over the soil in the row by hand, then after planting, add more newspaper, cardboard and straw to the whole garden.
This method really cut down on the weeds and the need to water, but the trade-off was that it gave excellent cover for harmful bugs to hide, and multiply. As a result, I got very little edible produce from the garden. Every tomato was pock-marked by bugs sticking their nasty little beaks in to the tomato and leaving poison that would make the tomato rot quickly. Green beans--after the peak picking, the rest got so many bites they didn't even look like a bean anymore. Squash bugs....Oh the horror!! on my zucchini! I used the least harmful (to me) insecticides I could find, but need to find something that actually works. IDK, maybe the Spinosad was old?

So, I am trying something different this year. Only deep digging on those crops that have deeper root systems. I got a cultivator, and am using it to turn under the debris that is left after I raked the whole garden free of straw, pine needles, pine shavings and partially decomposed cardboard.

I will be using soaker hoses, and plenty fertilizer. We'll see what happens.
if you bury everything you raked down deep enough and then kept the surface scraped bare of weeds that would be pretty close to how i am doing things currently. we do have some bugs, but not many, but also i'm not in your climate/area so i don't know what this would actually do. :)

i mulch, but mostly around the edges and the strawberries.
 

AMKuska

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I still love my tiller. George Morris tells we equestrians to not pick up and carry anything that can be transported with something else, like a wheelbarrow or tractor, bc you should always save your back. I have translated this to same with a spade. Why break up compacted soil with your spade? You always end up breaking it into smaller pieces with your fingers, anyway. If you don't want the weeds, use a raised bed and put cardboard down at ground level, then fill with soil. All of the seeds deeper in the soil and weeds that send runners underground won't come up in That bed.
I think you might want to research straw bale gardening, which is essentially no till compost gardening since you don't dig to plant.
That's interesting you mention that, the lady specifically mentioned in the structure class that those annoying clumps should be left. I don't actually recall why now, it's in my notes somewhere. I think that they have nutrients in them and the plant can burst them themselves when they're ready? I wish I remembered. -.-
 

seedcorn

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It’s the fungus that lives in the soil that is killed by exposure. The fungus helps the soil health.
 

Beekissed

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I do no till, though a few times since then I've used light cultivation of the surface with a little Mantis to work in a blanket of weed seedlings or to work up some soil so I can pile it into a raised bed.

It's a more sustainable way of gardening, especially if one is adding mulch materials every fall to keep building a soft topsoil layer. There seems to be more pest bugs, but I think it's coincidental, as folks on here who till regularly are having the same problems with the same pest bugs at the same time as I am....I don't think that has much to do with till or no till, at this point.

Around here, if you till even past 4 in. into the topsoil you start to add hard pack clay into your surface medium, which causes root compaction when the rains hit it, so you either have to keep tilling all season long or mulch deeply to keep the soil loose.....so I just by pass that step of tilling by mulching deeply and not turning the clay from below up to the surface. It will eat my mulch soon enough without me helping with that.
 

ducks4you

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That's interesting you mention that, the lady specifically mentioned in the structure class that those annoying clumps should be left. I don't actually recall why now, it's in my notes somewhere. I think that they have nutrients in them and the plant can burst them themselves when they're ready? I wish I remembered. -.-
I want you to find your notes. Ever since Mike Bloomberg insulted all of us with his horticulture advice: to presume that digging a hole, sticking a seed in, one and done--I am even MORE fascinated about growing methods that I am not familiar with.
 
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