Transition Whatcom

I'm thinking it might be useful to have a list of available tools and skills that new gardeners could draw on. Is there something like that already? Here is my example of what I'm talking about...

 

We are just getting started with an organic gardening project on the side of our house. Just uncovered the previously grassy area we had covered with cardboard for the last couple of months and we are now ready to work the soil. Is there anyone in the Bellingham area who has some kind of small/medium sized tiller (maybe motorized?) that would be rentable (maybe for Life Dollars) so we can really work our soil prior to late planting?

 

If you have suggestions on how to avoid a motorized effort (that won't damage our aged backs) that would be useful too.

 

Thanx,

Warren Miller

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Warren,

Your soil should be fairly loosened by worms unless they didn't have time to finish devouring the roots. If you still have roots, put the cardboard back on for another month. You have until the end of July to plant a winter garden. Hopefully you have not walked on the soil which would re-compact it again. The soil should be easy to loosen with a garden fork. Make long rows with narrow paths in between them (about 1' wide or maybe a bit wider) The rows are twice as wide as you can reach across. You stand on the path and fork over the row. It doesn't take long to turn over rows, and you should mix in compost while you are at it. Then plant it. When that crop is finished, the row will be much easier to turn over and prep for the next crop. The soil gets looser and easier as time goes by, because you never walk on it again. Really for a small area, you can fork it in an afternoon or two and it's much easier on your back than bucking a rototiller around.
Great idea to have a tool-sharing forum! Esp. for large, costly tools like rototillers. Just FYI - I have found raised beds so much better for quality soil than trying to "fluff up" our clay soils. I've been gardening this plot in my yard for 5 years, adding organic compost and other amendments all this time, and it is still heavy clay. The raised beds, however, are wonderfully loose and "fluffy." The challenge: making the raised beds! Wood has to be thick and void of creosote or or other wood treating chemicals.
Here are some thoughts. Don't make raised bed frames just mound up the beds with the soil that you dig out from the paths and additional compost or amendments. Then never walk on the beds or rototill. Rototilling makes the beds look good at first, but actually kills the soil in the long run creating hard pan and minced worms. Instead use a broad fork or U-bar to aerate the soil. Easy on the back and the soil. U-bars don't take gas and there are no moving parts to break. Lighter then a rototiller and not as stinky or noisy! more info can be seen here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqQbCDJa_Cs
and more here
http://www.inspirationfarm.com/newif/classes/ubar.html
Hope this helps!
This is the way to go, as long as you weigh more than 150 lbs. When I tried it, I couldn't stomp it into the ground.

Brian Kerkvliet said:
Here are some thoughts. Don't make raised bed frames just mound up the beds with the soil that you dig out from the paths and additional compost or amendments. Then never walk on the beds or rototill. Rototilling makes the beds look good at first, but actually kills the soil in the long run creating hard pan and minced worms. Instead use a broad fork or U-bar to aerate the soil. Easy on the back and the soil. U-bars don't take gas and there are no moving parts to break. Lighter then a rototiller and not as stinky or noisy! more info can be seen here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqQbCDJa_Cs
and more here
http://www.inspirationfarm.com/newif/classes/ubar.html
Hope this helps!
Good figuring, Walter.

I had a garden digging party and discovered who my true friends were. Three of us dug 3
25' long x 3.5' wide beds out of lawn in an hour and a half. That means one person can dig a bed that size in half an hour. But really, no one digs gardens anymore. Sheet mulching is the way to go. You put on the manure, the cardboard and wait 3 months, loosen a bit if you want then just plant in it.

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