When to dig veggetable garden?

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by flowercents, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. flowercents

    flowercents Active Member 10 Years

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    I'm new to having a vegetable garden, and was wondering when to turn the soil over. I know the soil isn't suspposed to be wet, but living on the rainy west coast, I'd have to wait till who knows when for the soil to dry. My Garden looks like it was at one time slightly raised (about 3-4"), but it is pretty much ground level now.
     
  2. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    dig soil over when there is no hockey or other interesting TV to be watched. :)
    I would say February through March are good times to consider adding amenders and turning soil over, if you are on the West coast. Probably mid July in the rest of the Country. ;)
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    When soil formed by fist crumbles after fingers are opened. Continue use of raised beds, soil is 10F warmer in raised beds than on the level. Beds raised high enough and held up by wide enough edging can be sat next to for weeding and picking. Sandy or fluffy soil will need to be kept fenced or covered when not fully planted, if there are any unconfined cats present.
     
  4. Thean

    Thean Active Member 10 Years

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    Howdy Flowercents,
    Have you ever thought of trying zero tillage? I have been practicing it since 1968 and getting excellent results.
    Peace
    Thean
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2010
  5. flowercents

    flowercents Active Member 10 Years

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    I've never heard of zero tillage. Please tell me more about it.
     
  6. Thean

    Thean Active Member 10 Years

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    Howdy Flowercents,
    Zero or minimum tillage is not a new concept and had been practiced for years. There are champions of this practice like Emilia Hazelip, Masanobu Fukuoka, Bill Mollison, Ruth Stout, etc. As the name suggests, we do not dig or cultivate the land other than weeding. Different people have different approach. My veggie garden is 10m x 10m. I divided it into 6 wide beds named beans, grains, onions, potatoes, peas and others. I follow a strict regime of rotation with the same crop growing on the bed only once every 6 years. You notice that I have potato. Since this crop is underground, I have to dig to harvest. Hence in a way, I only dig that bed once every 6 years. The trick in zero tillage is to avoid walking on the growing beds. Soil compaction is man made and one of the best way to avoid soil compaction is to not walk on the beds. Just as an example, as a shortie that weigh slightly over 70 kg, I applied as much as 3 Kg/cm every time I walk.
    I will recommend you to try to go to your local library and borrow "The One Straw Revolution" by Masanobu Fukuoka. It will give you a very good idea of how to start. Zero or minimum tillage is now adopted even by large commercial growers. So there are universities with websites related to this subject.
    Peace
    Thean
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2010
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Minimum tillage was being advocated/tested by Washington State University scientists in th 1970s. There was concern about severe erosion of wheat production areas in SE Washington. However, the alternative to tilling was spraying of herbicides. From a conservation standpoint this was a mixed blessing.
     
  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  9. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    It's great if a particular method of cultivation can help with the various eco issues (and I definitely don't mean to trivialize that aspect), but it also has to work in a practical sense. The article referenced by Daniel does not address that, particularly from the point of view of the small/medium vegetable grower. I'd really like to see more research on how it's done and how well it works.
    We are trying (a bit late this year, but we didn't have the material until very recently) a low-till approach brought on by the fact that if I put the tractor in the vegetable patch today, I'd be lucky if I could still see the seat and the exhaust stack by the end of the first row! Mucho soft!
    We have some 13' x 100' strips of weed barrier cloth (plastic mulch) which I have layed down and bricked to try for a "top kill" prior to planting. I hope the anticipated warm/sunny weather will help bake the little #@!*'s that have carpetted the garden over the winter. This barrier cloth has a life expectancy of 6 years, so if we roll it up and store it out of the sun between uses it should last literally a lifetime.
    Ralph
     
  10. schwatka

    schwatka Member

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    Get out there with a fork and turn your bed. It improves soil structure and reduces waistline at the same time. We have 672 square feet of riased beds which are all turned by hand. In the Yukon we turn the soil two weeks before the May long weekend. This helps to warm the soil as well as loosen the clumps. I add compost and bone meal at the time of planting.


    Happy Gardening.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2005
  11. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Amen to that, and when you've finished yours, come and do mine, I'll even let you use my favorite fork! The garden I was referring to is about 13,000 square feet, plus we're getting ready to turn over another 75,000 (around 2 acres) for the new vineyard as well as re-plow, chisel plow, till and seed another 3 1/2 acres we re-levelled last year after digging the 1.5Mgal reservoir the previous fall, having made room for that by moving the cows to the top 9 acres we plowed and replanted the fall before that. Oh, and thanks for asking, but no, we haven't quite finished the house, but we're in it and we did get the roof on the new stable, but I actually had to hire someone to re-roof the barn (I don't much like heights anymore).

    Acrtually, we've had some dry sunny weather and I took a chance and put the Green machine into the garden. Got about 2/3rds of it; almost got stuck down at the bottom trying to get just a little more. The peas are going in tomorrow and we'll figure the rest out as it comes.

    The best tillers we ever employed were 5 European Wild Boars two years ago in our previous garden. It was about 3000 sq. ft. and in 2 months they had it absolutely weedless! And fertilized! We're still eating some of that harvest.

    Ralph
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2005
  12. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I've made a few edits to the previous two posts. One post was edited to keep the discussion on-topic, the other was edited to make sense due to the editing of the other.

    This discussion is about when to dig beds for a vegetable garden, with an interesting side discussion about "Is digging beds for a vegetable garden the only option? Consider this..."

    Please, feel free to be dismissive about no-till soil management as part of that discussion. Advocate for the benefits of conventional methods. Or advocate for no-till. Or advocate for another technique. I'm interested in learning more about all sides of these techniques, and I'm enjoying the good back-and-forth going on. But also please try not to derail the thread with off-hand comments that have the potential to make the discussion degenerate into something less valuable for participants and readers. Thanks for your kind consideration on this.
     
  13. mystic_eye

    mystic_eye Member

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    On the off -topic of no till gardening, you could look into square foot gardening. It claims to reduce the amount of weeding required because plants are grown closer together. You plant in 1foot squares in a four by four grid in a raised bed so that you don't walk on the soil. http://www.squarefootgardening.com/

    Just my 2 cents
     
  14. Carol Ja

    Carol Ja Active Member 10 Years

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    I turned my veggie garden over in Feb (Saltspring Island), I also planted Radishes, and Peas, of which I started eating in April.
    Carol Ja
     
  15. schwatka

    schwatka Member

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    In response to mystic eye, we practice square foot gardening on a larger scale...it is more of the french intensive gardening method. Our beds are four feet wide and 24 feet long. Beds are planted in "the hexagon" on the principle that if plants can grow 3" apart along a row the rows need only be 3" inches wide. (or 6" or 12". whatever the plant spacing recommends) The plants are then spaced so that each row starts three inches over or three inches back (or 6 or 12) forming a hexagon.This reduces weeds and water evaporation. We also practice interplanting with certain vegatables like lettuce, radish, bok choy and garlic to name a few.

    Because it is done in raised beds 4 feet wide with a three foot walkway between them there is never hard pan or soil compaction in the beds. The number of beds we have allows us a four year rotation, meaning the same thing is not planted in the same bed for four years. Then you get into crop rotation.... what should follow what in next year's rotation....that is a whole other discussion.

    Happy gardening.
     

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