Rototilling and the worm population

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by Harry Homeowner, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. Harry Homeowner

    Harry Homeowner Active Member

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    Does using a rototiller affect the worm population of your soil in a negative way? I feel that it could seriously do some damage to those little guys.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Ruth Stout used deep straw mulching instead of tilling to keep her soil loose. Repeated tilling can grind your soil down; you may also lose part of it to the wind when tilling under suitably dry conditions. Mechanical tillage might best be limited to first getting the garden started rather than used as a routine maintenance procedure.
     
  3. Harry Homeowner

    Harry Homeowner Active Member

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    Thanks for the response Ron.

    The reason I ask is I am planning to do a vegetable garden this year and late last fall I put down about a half inch on compost and covered it with a layer of leaves. I went out today and raked it back just to see what was going on and man I had quite the worm population.

    My plan was to rototill it in but I may just have to hand till - its not that big of a area.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Or maybe just do like Ruth and pull the mulch back, plant in the soil and replace the mulch - without tilling. If the mulching has made the soil loose enough to plant, no need to cultivate.

    One of her books was called No Work Gardening Method. She gardened back there where presumably as would be the case in your location hot summers would make deep mulching of vegetable plantings possible. In our cool summers here warm season crops at least may need the soil to be kept exposed during the growing season.
     
  5. greengarden bev

    greengarden bev Active Member

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    Just a little aside...

    Ruth Stout was the radical gardener of her time. I think her books are out of print now, but you can possibly find them second hand.

    Even further along the no-till garden path is the "natural farming" philosophy of Masanobu Fukuoka and his followers:
    http://www.mulandscaping.com/ArticleTheAmazingNaturalFarmOfMasanobuFukuoka.htm
    http://fukuokafarmingol.info/

    One of his students was Emilia Hazelip, who practiced a hybrid of the Fukuoka system and permaculture she called "synergistic gardening":
    http://fukuokafarmingol.info/faemilia.html
    She died in 2003 and some films of her garden have been digitized and are available on Google Video.

    I am really inspired by these people but sadly I just love to get my hands and my trowel in the soil and dig. Its a habit I'd like to break. It starts with a bit of weeding, then it progresses to a little digging (gotta get those dandelion roots...) and before you know it I'm standing on the spade. (sigh)
     
  6. Thean

    Thean Active Member 10 Years

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    Howdy Harry,
    The very fact that you have earthworms tells me your soil is in good condition. You will be doing more harm to other flora, fauna and the soil itself besides the worms by rototilling. I practice zero tilling since 1968 in two countries (one near the Equator and now in Canada) and have no problems.
    Peace
    Thean
     

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