Feb 10, 2013
When Marie invited me to have a discussion about soil building for the Feb 10 Lovavore group I thought it would be a fun thing to do.
Thanks to Marie and the group for what they do.
Of course I wanted to have some resources to leave with the group. Because of our full time move to Martin Hollow and trying to establish a garden in part of the old lawn I had already been reading some recent articles and books about soil building. I had also discovered several books from past years that were downloadable about soil and had been enjoying the ideas of authors from the "old days". This was intended to help with the new garden and also offer ideas for continuing to build fertility for the market farm Jon and Chris have on the adjoining property. www.martinhollowfarm.com
Marie had referred to me as a "long time" Organic Gardener so I decided to take a look at our archives to see just how long "long time" had been. The boxes of Organic Gardening stored in the garage revealed that we had a copy from the same month we were married in the last century.
We started out renting the small mobile home shown in the PowerPoint picture. The landlady was a great gardener. She introduced us to the magazine so I guess that defines long time as all our married life. That old issue was actually her copy and seeing her name on the label brought back many memories.
Then the fun began. I spent hours looking through them and marking articles I thought would be informative in the discussion about soil building. These were issues from the 60's , 70's and 80's but the concepts were still valid for the present.
Deciding what to include to keep it within the time of the meeting was another fun exercise. Putting together a PowerPoint also had me looking through the hundreds of picture taken over those many years.
There was way too much stuff and went through it too fast so wanted to put a lot online and let you pick out information that might be helpful for you or maybe send you in the right direction to find on other sites.
I did want to say that my answer to the question if using a garden tiller was bad for the earthworms did not come across as a real answer. I remember when my dad purchased our first tiller. We thought we had been delivered from the wilderness. (Well, OK, the weed patch) The tiller saved countless hours hoeing and hand weeding. Our parents and grandparents had not been introduced to the concept of mulching. Gardening (and farming) was a cultivation exercise. This was also before the introduction of heavy chemical use for weed control. One of my jobs helping my uncle on his farm was driving the tractor pulling the rotary hoe in the beans and corn to toss out weeds that were just starting to grow. I suppose running the tiller in the garden just seemed a normal thing to do.
Get on with the answer....
Yes running the tiller does disturb the worms. If some form of mulch is on the surface they will stay close to that food source. We do prepare the seed bed in the Spring and then mulch. On a smaller scale you could leave mulch as a permanent cover. You can read about what is best for you by searching online and applying it to the way you grow your garden. Just a few of many found in a search of the subject.
Much of what has been and is still being written about soil building and fertility comes down to you and your situation. So many ideas and so little time.......
See, I can type almost as much as I can talk.
Some pages would not enhance to take away the yellowing so just pretend you are reading one of my old magazines.
The PowerPoint Might not make a lot of sense without my talk. (matter of opinion I guess)
Soil Sample Example of results and recommendations
March 1964 One article on mulches
May 1965 One article on good soil plus 1965 concept of computers of the future
May 1965 DDT
Feb 1979 Garden Beds
Apr 1983 Worms
A page of other sites Appears the 1965 prediction of using the computer came true