Cultivating or otherwise know as tilling the soil of your garden is an old-age practice of loosing and churning the soil of the garden to help the soil recover and make it easier for you to add compost and plant the seeds. However, you can also do the alternate method which is called “no-till gardening“.
No-till gardening allows you to skip the long and laborious process of tilling and cultivating the soil of your garden plot.
The Basics of No-Till Gardening
The No-Till Gardening method saves you a lot of time and effort while retaining the benefits and advantages of tilling or cultivating the soil. By preserving and not destroying the soil structure, the soil will be able to retain more water and be more resistant to erosion caused by a sudden downpour of rain.
Advantages of No-Till Gardening
One of the advantages of no-till gardening is that it is really easy to start especially for beginners and for those gardeners that already have started their gardening, applying this method will not cause any great disruptions to your growing plants. No-till gardening allows the natural course of nature to take care of the garden plot for you at the same time helps boosts the growth of your plants.
Improve Soil Quality
By not disrupting and disturbing the natural soil layer, you are allowing it to become richer in nutrients and improve the soil structure. By keeping the soil structure intact, you promote and encourage nature’s natural soil cultivators like earthworms to do their work in distributing nutrients throughout the garden plot.
Prevents or Reduces the Amount of Weeds Growing
No-till gardening reduces the number of weeds from growing in your garden plot. Garden soil usually contains weed seeds that are dormant because they are not exposed to light, and by leaving the soil structure intact, you are preventing the seeds from germinating.
Reduces Soil Erosion
By allowing the soil structure to develop naturally its integrity is strengthened allowing it to resist erosion due to strong wind or heavy downpours. This helps the soil to retain much of the nutrients and water that is needed during the dry season.
Helps Retain Nutrients and Carbon
By not disturbing the soil structure you are also saving essential nutrients from decaying organic matter and carbon-enriched humus that is needed by plants to grow healthy. By allowing the soil to retain its rich organic composition, you use fewer fertilizers that can save your time and money.
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How to Prepare Your Garden for No-Till Gardening
The first step in preparing your garden for no-till gardening is preparing the soil bed. This method is very important because this is the foundation of your soil structure.
Soil Bed Preparation
Time and effort should be invested in preparing the soil for no-till gardening so that the method can be effective. The soil should be double-dug to a depth that is at least two shovel blades deep. It is also important to remove obstructions like rocks, debris and old roots to clear the way for the new plants.
Applying Mulch to the Garden Plot
The effectivity of the no-till gardening method relies on the liberal application of mulch to your garden plot soil. Applying a thick layer of mulch will allow the soil to retain more moisture and prevent them from drying out especially during high temperature. The Mulch layer also provides a great environment for beneficial plant organism to thrive like earthworms which help keep the soil healthy.
Planting the Seeds While Keeping the Mulch Layer Intact
After you have applied a layer of mulch to your soil, it is time to plant the seeds of your plants. When planting the seeds it is always important to keep the mulch layer intact so you should pull or peel away the mulch layer and plant the seeds under the layer. For long-stemmed plants such as peppers or tomatoes, it is advisable to pull the mulch from the stem and leave space for them to grow.
What Are the Materials that Can be Used as Mulch?
There are plenty of natural or recyclable materials that can be used as mulch. However, some materials may be more beneficial than others so it is important to consider what materials to use before using them on your garden as they can affect the growth of your plants.
Compost can be used as mulch and is a good material to use especially during the start of the planting season.
Grass clippings can also be used as mulch because they are rich in nitrogen and can contribute to the growth of the plants. Avoid using fresh green grass clipping during fruit season.
Yard Waste and Wood Shaving
Fallen branches or pieces of wood like wood shavings can be used as mulch provided they are fine enough to act as a layer over the soil. They are a good source of nutrients for the soil once they start to decay.
Straw and Hay
Straw and hay are also great candidates for mulching materials because they are a great source of carbon and essential organic nutrients when they decay in the soil.
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No-till gardening is definitely worth the effort and perfect for gardens in every size. The quality of the soil and the nutrients of the soil composition improve as time goes by making your plants, even more, healthier by the seasons. This method may require a little preparation but the savings in time and effort are well worth it.