If you’ve been around gardening for very long you know one of the biggest debates in gardening is…
This post is not to “decide” it once and for all. It’s to tell you the pro’s and cons of both methods, and let YOU make the decision as to what is right for you.
No till is a way of making a garden without using a tiller, plow or double digging. It is not what most would call a “traditional” gardening style. The thinking behind the no till garden is that the soil is alive. It contains billions of creatures from earthworms to one celled organisms, and includes fungi and bacteria (some good and some bad). The thought is that by constantly turning and stirring the soil, you are killing or at least disrupting these organisms, which can cause imbalances. Many believe no till is more like nature. Take a tree for example. Leaves fall to the ground which the organisms break down. Then the tree can use what is left as food. No one digs around it. This is part of the thinking of permaculture. The idea of no till is not only to not turn the soil, but to always keep it covered with mulch such as wood chips, leaves, cardboard and manure. Amendments are laid on top of the soil, not turned into it.
The dust bowl of the 1920’s is blamed on a severe drought coupled with large amounts of tilled farm land and wind. The results were devastating. But what about your garden?
Summery: In the long run the soil will likely be healthier and easier to tend. That is not the case for the first few years. With this method patience is a virtue.
A Tilled garden is just what it sounds like. You build a garden by tilling, plowing or in other ways digging up your soil. You often use this time to incorporate amendments into the top few inches of the soil.
The idea behind minimum tillage is to till, plow or double dig the first year, incorporating a large amount (25-50% of the volume) of amendments into your soil. Then in subsequent years you practice no till or minimal till (only tilling in cover crops in the top two inches).
Some will tell you that a tiller should never ever be used on your garden. Others will tell you that’s the only way to have a successful garden. Who’s right? Only you can decide. Some environments and circumstances will lend themselves more to one method than the other. Don’t let others make your decisions for you. Decide by what is right for you, now and in the future. Your experiences will help you determine which way is best.
Want to read more opinions about this subject? Here are a few I found useful.
The Low-Down on Double Digging – From The Permaculture Institute.
Till vs. No-Till: 6 Reasons I’ve Decided To Go Back To Tilling My Garden – From Morning Chores
Stop Tilling Your Vegetable Garden! – From The Creative Vegetable Gardener
5 Ways To Till A No Till Garden – From Attainable Sustainable
However you decide to garden…May it be Just Ducky!
Check out these gardening books to learn more.