Monday, April 26, 2010

Kitchen Gardener Soil Maintenance Thanks Laura

The start of spring means it's time to start your garden. Most of us begin the planting season by tilling our garden. Tilling breaks up the soil, helps eliminate weeds, and aerates the soil. The aeration caused by tilling exposes the soil to the air, which in turn activates microbes in the soils which, along with the addition of organic matter, help to make the soil fertile.
How often you should till, however, is often a frequent question. Frequent tilling - more than three or four times a year - can damage the soil’s texture. The more soil is tilled, the further it breaks down, eventually turning into the equivalent of sand. Frequent tilling can also cause the soil to become glazed. Once this happens, you should use a pitch fork or spade to break up the layer of soil that is just beyond the reach of the tines or blade of your tiller.
You should also avoid tilling the soil in your garden while it is wet. Tilling wet soil destroys the texture of the soil, which should be comprised of different sizes of dirt and matter. Once wet tilled soil has dried, clods of dirt dry and can become as hard as rocks and recovery can be hard and time consuming.
Frequent tilling has also been shown to reduce the amount of small creatures living in the soil. Creatures, such as earthworms, help to turn and rejuvenate the soil. Reducing the effects these creatures have on the soil can have long-term ecological effects.

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