To dig or not to dig... that is the question.

Discussion in 'Gardening, Plant Propegation, & Farming' started by PracticalToby, Jun 14, 2016.

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  1. PracticalToby

    PracticalToby Member
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    I've recently been trying out the 'no-dig' method of vegetable gardening. This involves marking a plot, covering it with a thick layer of news or other (non-shiny) paper, followed by compost, seaweed or whatever you have and topped with a layer of soil or compost. The idea is that the worms do the work instead of you digging and churning up the lower layers of soil.

    Does anyone else have experience of using this method? It strikes me it could be useful in a survival situation when you need to conserve your own energy.
     
  2. Tom Williams

    Tom Williams Moderator Staff Member
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    Ive got a 6ft rotortiller that makes quick work of the job of getting feilds ready to plant
     
  3. OfTheEarth

    OfTheEarth Member
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    Is there a huge difference in time with electric tillers versus hand tillers? I've seen quite a few of both but have never been in a position to garden yet, definitely interested in picking one up once I have the opportunity to grow, but I'm not sure how much I should be investing in the tilling process. I have to imagine it's more significant to do it right than do it quickly, as with most things.
     
  4. PracticalToby

    PracticalToby Member
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    Is that pedal or sail powered Tom? Just joking!

    I agree. A good tool to rotovate a plot in the first instance is a wonderful thing to have and, if you're growing on a field scale, is essential. It won;t work so well without fuel, but I guess there will still be supplies for some timeeven following a disaster. Let's hope that supplies will be prioritised for those equipped and able to grow on a large scale for the benefit of all survivors.
     
  5. Tom Williams

    Tom Williams Moderator Staff Member
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    Never saw a electric tiller but a tiller is a great tool plowing then discing feilds took 5 days now with my tiller. Its 6ft wide im done in 2days. A garden take hours with shovel and hoe and rake. Tiler take mins
     
  6. Tom Williams

    Tom Williams Moderator Staff Member
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    My old tractors trucks run on shine i make myself
     
  7. OfTheEarth

    OfTheEarth Member
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  8. lonewolf

    lonewolf Legendary Survivalist Staff Member
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    do you ever see mother nature dig? no of course you didn't, why put in those hours of back breaking digging- and you will be hand digging once all the fuel for the tractors and tillers is nothing more than ancient history-when you can build a raised bed fairly easily?
     
  9. explorerx7

    explorerx7 Expert Member
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    I don't know if there is better value to this method than actually doing the usual dig and preparation. It does seem to be a bit of work to get the beds ready for growing, just as it would be the actual dig process.
     
  10. chelsknits

    chelsknits New Member
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    Wow, I've never heard of anything like this before. It sounds really interesting though and I agree that it sounds like it would energy. But I'm kind of having a hard time buying that worms would be able to do all of that in a timely manner. It might just be easier and faster to do the work yourself.
     
  11. Lisa Davis

    Lisa Davis Active Member
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    Our new backyard is fairly rocky and unmanageable. Plus, we don't have a tiller. So we were looking for the same solution to your exact problem. The solution that we liked the best was using old wooden pallets that sit atop of our actual ground in the backyard. We fill them with topsoil and go from there. There is a great website that we got a lot of information from when we started: http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/pallet-gardening-101-creating-a-pallet-garden/
     
  12. Arkane

    Arkane Master Survivalist
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    No-dig works but a decent dig works a lot better!
    The effort of digging is well worth the results!
    Dig rows and do not walk on them!
     
  13. Corzhens

    Corzhens Master Survivalist
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    We have an extended garden that is located in the vacant lot beside our property. Since the place is low that is conducive to flooding, we have created a raised bed for planting so the plants will not be soaked in water when it rains. But the bed is just plain soil although we normally mix some compost a day or 2 before planting.

    With your plan of letting the worms do their thing, I think you have to wait for a month before that plot could be arable. What you are doing is actually composting and not a plot for planting. But since you are already there, it is a good experiment. Just post the results here for we might learn some benefits of that experiment. Good luck.
     
  14. chelsknits

    chelsknits New Member
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    I really like this idea! I had heard of using pallets for vertical gardens but I've never seen this before. I think I'm going to give this a shot and see how it goes.
     
  15. remnant

    remnant Expert Member
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    I like the no dig method of farming attributed in the OP. This would add to the farming experience since the newspaper layer is sure to smother weeds. Water conservation is easier. Breaking up the soil exposes moisture to the sun and some volatile nutrients may escape. There is anothe no-dig method used in arid areas involving digging only the holes to be planted and leaving the rest of the ground intact. This conserves water in arid areas.
     
  16. Edprof

    Edprof Expert Member
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    I'm 67 and have gardened since I was a boy. I till, but I try to make every tilling count. I don't do tilling in mid-season just to accomplish ordinary cultivation--I hoe instead.

    My garden has grown to 8500 square feet. Three thousand square feet of tilling is 2 to 2 1/2 hours of tilling for me, and is as much as I usually want to do in one day. My end-of-fall tilling is nearly done, with one more session of 2,500 square feet left to go. This puts the last year's plant remains underground and lets them fertilize the next year's crop.

    I have a front-tine tiller and a rear-tine tiller. The front tine one is more aggressive when I need to break soil or chop up remains. The rear tine tiller (both Husqvarna) does deep tilling better, reaching down about 7 inches.
     
  17. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    We call this method "Boxing" because we collect cardboard boxes to cover the gardens then cover the cardboard with mulch, but we also use newspaper if we are short on cardboard. It is a "no weed" solution & it retains the moisture so less watering is needed. We simply make a hole in the cardboard to plant seed or seedlings.
    Keith.
    a89090fd94e550b390cb6147909f53bf.jpeg a89090fd94e550b390cb6147909f53bf.jpeg
     
  18. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Legendary Survivalist
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    I have a tiller with its tines on the front. When first busting this current garden, the tiller simply bounced off the packed earth. I had to bust the ground with a mattock. Where I'm from further south, the earth was red clay. As one lifts the mattock, one receives a brick. You break the bricks with the tiller. Now you gotta dump horse crap, sand, peat moss, on and on. Now till all of this under. Plants cannot send their roots down into soil that is concrete. In America, in states like Iowa, Kansas, ..., agriculture states, the ground is far more forgiving. Lived there. Grown gardens there. Might as well had been on another planet.
     
  19. Tom Williams

    Tom Williams Moderator Staff Member
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    Front tine tillers are rough to handle for sure any soil used to grow needs fed and rebuild barn cleanings work well but be sure to age and let them break down abit before you plant fresh will burn and shock plants and even kill them. Chicken and poultry is very strong fresh needs aged and brokedown for a longer time than cow. Horse works but be prepard to weed alot more mixed together and aged in large pile them place on garden or field in winter and fall works great
     
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