What's Happening in the Fall of 2017


I’m not sure what no-till is. You mean you just add compost or other organic material onto your plots and let it rot over the winter? How do keep the weeds and grass out of your garden plots and elsewhere? Isn’t that why one tills or plows their gardens? Not trolling, just curious. I guess I could Google it, but want to hear it from someone who actually does it.


When we moved here, we got a Troybilt cultivator to till our big gardens. Boy, was that inadequate. It is probably designed for small plots, elevated plots at that. I gave us carburetor problems the second year, so I exchanged it for a Husqvarna front tine tiller. That thing is a hoss. I’m not a big guy, and it’s like trying to ride a bucking bronco. You just hang on. But it does a fine job of chopping up that dirt, I must say…

Love the smell of freshly tilled earth. It’s so, so earthy…


Your daikon sure looks better than ours we planted this year. Ours were skinny and no more than a half inch wide. We just don’t have good luck with things like carrots and long radishes like that. I guess our soil has too much clay in it. The short round radishes do pretty well here, tho.

Do you grow yours in elevated plots?


no i haven’t had too much success with radishes until this year
i dig the soil probably 6 inches deep, put some plant tone and diatomaceous earth in the bottom probably around 1/2 cup per square foot at a 2:1 ratio. amend some recycled potting soil with existing soil probably at about 1/3 recycled potting soil to 2/3 soil in the ground which is usually clay. i then put about 3 seeds in each hole. at about 1 inch to 2 inch deep. if you dont plant radish seeds deep enough they never form a large taproot. i then thin to about one per initial seed hole using scissors to snip the ones i want to get rid of as not to disturb the taproot of the one i want to keep. i wait about 1 month and topdress with a 1/4 cup of plant tone and diatomaceous earth 2:1 ratio and water in real good. then i wait another 2 weeks and thin the ones that haven’t really taken off, by that point it is safe to sit back and relax a while as the ones you have left will stay good until it gets severely cold probably around 25 and i would pick before it gets that cold. but some radishes can take the cold and can be left longer it all depends on when you want to harvest.

this has been my best year and i can say that the greens are better than the radishes. they are the best greens of any greens i grow that is meant for further preperation. I like to eat lettuce fresh and cabbage fresh.

keep em watered and you can grow them at about one inch spacing from each other

i too haven’t had good success with carrots but i think in my area they prefer to be planted in spring and not fall. we will see next year. beets however do much better in spring than fall around here and im guessing they need alot less nitrogen


Thanks. That’s interesting about planting radishes deep, I have heard not to sow them more than a half inch deep at the most. We didn’t thin properly, so that may something to do with it also…

It’s weird, we got some big turnips when we planted them a few years ago, but carrots have been a no-go for us. Also have tried rutabagas and beets, and those didn’t pan out well either.


It’s a new method. Turning the soil loses ton’s of carbon to the air. So you’re losing organic matter instead of gaining it. I garden mostly in raised beds and i use cardboard every year to control weeds. We just got a 55 inch TV and man I have enough cardboard for awhile now! Otherwise I hand weed. I don’t have acres and acres. Many no till farmers use cover crops to control weeds or roundup. It’s not perfect, I would never use roundup in that way.
So weed control is a disadvantage. But increased yield is an advantage as the soil structure does not have to be rebuilt every year, plants grow bigger and better. The no till movement started in the 1940’s. We are losing topsoil, and this method loses none. Other advantages and disadvantages exist, Better water retention, and less soil erosion. People are looking for ways to reduce carbon in the air so sustainable agricultural techniques like no till are becoming popular. Google to learn more.
The main reason I don’t till it is hard to do in raised beds, and equipment and even walking on the soil compacts it. My beds being only 4 feet wide don’t require me to walk in them, ever! I can reach in 2 feet from either side rather easily. So I retain more organic matter, it’s not compacted from equipment, water retention is better, I need less fertilizer, and the biology of the soil remains constant. One major disadvantage is pathogens can remain too, tilling can help bury pathogens along with weed seeds. So I rotate crops every year to reduce any pathogen buildup.


Ruth Stout started mulch farming years ago and people still use it http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/WinYourWeedWar2.pdf. In modern agriculture the meaning is different which is use glysophate on everything and plant seeds that are glysophate resistant in the soil and nothing but the resistant seeds live. No weeds and no need to till and that’s modern agriculture in a nut shell.


Yes, I think a mistake, some low till methods make more sense to me. For a home gardener like me, their is no reason to ever till. Weeds are not really much of an issue for me. The cardboard works well and increases carbon in the soil. It’s under the leaves and mulch cover. If it is not fully decomposed in the spring, I just punch holes in it while planting. It is broken down enough that it is easy to do. I can cut my way through too if still fairly stiff.
Around perennials like my blueberries I use ground cover crops to control weeds. Mostly strawberries and looking into some Rubus plants too. It works well, i hardly ever get weeds. I do get borage trying to grow in them, but that is easy to remove by hand. I often let it go as it attracts so many bees. I pull between 15-20 weeds out of here a year, at the most. this particular bed didn’t have any this year. This bed is 5 or 6 years old, and as time goes by less weeds means less seeds, so it seems to have fewer and fewer weeds each season.


You need a tiller to fit your job, absolutely

And you need a tiller you can physically handle

The Honda F220 that I rented this time fits both criteria. But first I’m going to see if I can get the Mantis running again


Finally just about done moving trees. I had to dig up and move about 50 trees this fall and sold about a dozen more. Many of them were 2 year peach trees which were very hard to dig in the heavy dry soil (It’s hardly rained for a couple months here.)

I ended up breaking the steel handle of my heavy duty spade, so had to reweld a new (heavier) handle. Also the “spoon” portion of the spade was starting to break from stress fatigue, so I had to reinforce it.

A person can buy a King of Spades for a about a hundred bucks. These kinds of spades are good tools for prying out the roots of big trees. The only drawback is they have to be made heavy to withstand the torque on the handle. Mine is a very heavy shovel, but I think it will now withstand my 6’2", 220 lb. frame without bending.


i think I’m going no till’ next season. in the past i tilled in between the rows of my garden and raspberry patch then mulched everything w 3in. of hardwood chips. really made nice soil! so now ill mulch with chips around the plants and plant white clover in between rows. does that sound like it would work? i hope the clover doesn’t become too invasive. or should i till it in for green manure and replant each spring?


I tilled for a for years when I started gardening. Then my tiller broke so I stop tilling. I have noticed no difference in results with a good deal less work. I should also mention most of my beds are raised beds, but not all of them.


Yes, I have seen where they do a shallow turnover on these crops. Sounds like a good idea. You could leave it too. It will still add nitrogen.

That’s good enough for me! I have nothing against tilling, I just don’t need it. If I was making new garden beds in the ground, tilling would be great to start it.


I have some hairy vetch with winter rye cover crop growing this year. I plan on using a shovel to turn them into the bed in the early spring. I heard the rye may have some properties that prohibit seed germination, so I will plant seedlings where the cover crop is. This is the first year using a cover crop so I guess I’ll see.

I agree Drew that if I were making new beds I would till up the old earth first.


i could just till the top few inches in and reseed. depends how lazy i am. not a fan of tilling my rocky heavy clay soil although over the years of tilling the aged chips in has helped losen it up a lot. seems like it always grows more rocks tho. :wink:


Every situation is unique, it’s a tool, and can be very useful, or harmful, depending on circumstances.


I find clover to be highly invasive and resistant to tilling

When I do a green manure it’s something annual that you can mow down and till in


I would avoid it then, Maybe one of these…


maybe ill just layer some cardboard in between the rows and cover with wood chips every spring just to keep the weeds down then a layer of compost around the plants then chips to cover that. that sounds simpler and easier. just add to that every year and let the mycelium and worms do the work! :wink:


Anyone in the mid Atlantic area feel those earthquakes yesterday? There were three tremors of about 4.0 centered near Dover, Delaware. They all hit about 4:45pm.

Never heard of many quakes in that part of the country. I do recall the one tho, a few years ago when the Washington monument was damaged by one.