At Home in Nature

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Turning the soil important to fertility

Turning the soil regularly is important to fertilization. Even without the addition of manure (green or animal), more than 16 kilograms per hectare of nitrogen can be mineralized in the soil from tillage by giving air to the microorganisms in the soil. Tillage also creates small pores that, in the morning, have a pressure differential to the atmosphere and condense water in the soil, helping along the microorganisms. These pores also insulate the soil against excessive cold or heat, and help establish better soil structure to moderate the water content of the soil from excessive dryness or moisture.

Gardeners and farmers will choose either to till aisles in the spring or in the autumn. Some gardeners and farmers choose to till in the spring because it reduces disturbances to the insects and arachnids and other garden helpers. Other gardeners and farmers till in the autumn BECAUSE it disturbs the insects and arachnids and other critters they believe are harmful. It is possible to till in the autumn or winter without disturbing the life of the garden very much if a “reservation” system is used, in which about 20% of the land area of the garden or farm is kept in near-wilderness condition for the insects and arachnids and other small creatures to find refuge.

Whether you till spring or autumn, tillage is the perfect time to integrate manure (if you have some) into what will become the base of the beds – right where the plant roots will be able to access it. The roots don’t eat the poop, of course, but do eat the fertilized soil that results when microorganisms eat the poop. The manure warms the beds through the microorganisms eating it, and reduces frost damage by increasing the saltiness of the soilv
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