Feeling guilty because you skipped digging up your garden this year before planting? Don’t. It’s suddenly good to be lazy.
Kevin Marini, Master Gardener and Composter Community Education Specialist for Placerville and Nevada counties, says experts who once sang the praises of turning the soil before planting are now rallying around a new banner, no-till gardening.
No-till gardening is not really new at all, Marini says. Connecticut home gardener and eventual gardening icon Ruth Stout was advocating no-dig gardening 70 years ago. It took modern researchers a while to catch up and prove her right.
Ironically, it was big agriculture that tipped the scales. When commercial farmers all across the country stopped plowing their fields, experts decided there was something to this no-till farming.
The advice now is to let your soil rest mostly undisturbed, which lets the micro-organisms so crucial to a bountiful garden remain where they want and need to be, and it avoids destroying the structure of the soil, which turns out to be more important than previously realized.
There are three basic levels of no-till gardening, Marini says — the lazy , the middle ground and the long term success methods.
In this method, you put in a raised bed, fill it will organic material and start gardening. The biggest issue, Marini says, is the interface between the organic material and the native soil. If you don’t disrupt that interface by lightly turning the soil or using a broad fork on it, you’ll create a barrier that doesn’t let the water penetrate into the native soil, which can lead to root rot.
In this method, you pick the spot for your garden bed well ahead of planting season. You pile up organic materials on the bed and them compost in place, also called lasagna gardening.
This method is more work than the lazy gardener one. You’ll need first to cover the entire planting area with newspapers to suppress weeds, then add grass clippings, manure, wood chips and leaves, up to 12 inches deep.
The drawback to this method is in waiting for the material to decompose, and needing to water it if there is no rain or if you prepare the bed during our dry season.
Long term success
This method is the most work, but provides lasting benefits. First, have your soil tested and then add in nutrients found lacking. Remove all perennial weeds, and cover the area in dry leaves, fresh grass clippings and other mixes of brown and green composting materials, covering the area in a mixture of the materials up to 8 inches.
Beds that are prepared and maintained in this method can become self-fertile, which means you can go back to being lazy.
Published at Thu, 24 May 2018 14:00:53 +0000