Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Tilling Complete

I was able to get into the garden yesterday and finish (at least for now) the spring tilling. It's funny. The water table is only down about 6 inches, but the surface was dry enough to till. Could have been drier, but it worked. All of the garden has been gone over twice and some as much as 6 times now. I think I've got the canary grass handled. The areas I had covered last fall with black plastic were by far the easiest to work. I wish I had covered the entire garden. Fundamentally, I don't like black plastic, but when a garden is new, I feel justified in using it to save a lot of labor and energy. My grandfather never used anything more than a shovel and a hoe to 'farm' his quarter acre garden. But that was after years of working it every year and good use of mulch over the winters. Ultimately, I'd like to get back to that if I ever stayed in one place long enough.

After I completed the tilling, I wanted to prepare an area for the early spring planting -- potatoes, onion sets, carrots, etc. For those plants, I wanted to get the root area up away from the water table for sprouting. Later the water table will drop a foot or more so the later crops do not need to be raised. Last year, we laboriously hand dug raised beds, lifting clods of canary-grass-root-laden soil. Most of those beds did not do very well. This year the root clods aren't there, but it's still a lot of work to hand dig raised beds. I used the furrowing attachment on my tiller to make three long raised rows in about 8 minutes. Slick. The furrows are 6-8 inches above the rest of the soil and appear to be 8-10 inches above the water table. The soil settled a lot in the rains since I made the furrows. I'll need to re-make them -- a little higher when it dries out some more. I plan to plant potatoes and onions on top the furrows. I'd like to be able to get the tiller down between the furrows a couple of times during the summer to keep the weeds under control.

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