At Home in Nature

  (Agate, Colorado)
TwoInTents Blog
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Dig early dig often

Tilling the soil is the best way to improve it. Adding air to the soil, even if you integrate NO manure or green matter, helps the beneficial microorganisms breathe and mineralize important nutrients from the air. More than 16kg/ha of nitrogen can be introduced into the soil by good tillage methods, and sufficient nutrients for most crops is possible without manure. Tilling last year's aisles all winter long gets them warmer and ready earlier for spring planting, and allows the beds to rest and provide shelter for all your animal friends - beneficial insects and even larger animals can find shelter in the undisturbed beds (next year's aisles) - until you're ready to till it under in the late spring once everyone's awake. Tillage builds better soil structure, allowing less need for water, pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer, saving costs - it is always cheaper to till than to buy chemicals. Tillage is the first work of a farmer and gardener. Tillage is done best by a shovel or a pickaxe, but on large fields, plows are needed. Of the numerous forms of plows, consider disk plows first. However, recently, numerous rototillers and spading machines have been developed that produce sometimes superior tillage! It pays to do trials, or at least shop around. Look for tillage that aerates the soil without creating compaction, turning it and spinning it and breaking it up so roots can easily penetrate.
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