Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Garden Work

Until now, we have never mechanically tilled the garden. Over the past two and a half years, pigs have done it all. However, our pig that we raised in the garden last winter did a great job of rooting up the garden early on, only to pack it down tightly after a long wet spell. We planted in the packed dirt, only loosening a small spot for each plant and hoped that putting a layer of wood chips over the hard packed soil would help the worms do their job. As far as growth goes, the garden did just fine (we just had rain and insect issues). After the garden was done, we dug down through the woodchips to find that the layer of hard packed dirt was still there. Although it probably would have been fine to leave, we decide to till the garden. Even the tiller had a tough time cutting through the packed clay, so we traded some favors with our neighbor and good friend Jamie to bring over his 1950's Ford tractor and run his plow through the garden a few times to break things up a bit. The plow probably ran 12 inches or so deep and was able to break up in a few minutes what would have taken our 5hp front tine tiller several hours. After plowing, we ran the tiller around a little just to break up the clods and get into the corners where the tractor could not go.

We were very happy to see lots of rich dark dirt coming to the surface, even from 12 inches down.
After Plowing

Just a little of the red clay we started out with came to the surface.

After breaking up the clods with the tiller and raking a bit it looks pretty good. The plan now is to get several trailer loads of tree bark compost from the local sawmill, build a pile in the center of the garden which will be used to compost other materials through the winter, then spread over the garden before planting next spring.

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