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    Post #1 - April 9th, 2008, 1:54 pm
    Post #1 - April 9th, 2008, 1:54 pm Post #1 - April 9th, 2008, 1:54 pm
    Rototilling

    This year, in an effort to upgrade my horticultural efforts, I'm going to rototill several garden areas in my backyard. I must rototill my front lawn -- which I reduced to barren mud last year in an effort to eradicate Creeping Charlie -- so I figured I might as well churn the ground in the garden areas as well. My guess is that the ground has to be pretty dry for this kind of operation, and that it's still too early to rototill (especially given periods of rain) but if anyone has hints, I'm open to suggestion.

    I'm renting a roto-tiller for $8/hr from a local Ace Hardware; that seems a reasonable price.

    David
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #2 - April 9th, 2008, 1:57 pm
    Post #2 - April 9th, 2008, 1:57 pm Post #2 - April 9th, 2008, 1:57 pm
    Is this in addition to or in place of your square foot garden from last year?

    I started my gardening adventure last year with a square foot garden (even though space isn't really an issue so much) just because it seemed like a pretty good method with which people have had success. And even though I may not need to conserve space, if you can, why not?

    But I was thinking about tilling and putting some stuff in the backyard soil alongside it to see how much difference it makes.
  • Post #3 - April 9th, 2008, 2:01 pm
    Post #3 - April 9th, 2008, 2:01 pm Post #3 - April 9th, 2008, 2:01 pm
    Aaron Deacon wrote:Is this in addition to or in place of your square foot garden from last year?


    In addition to. I'm going to keep the Square Foot Garden and use it specifically for a mix of lettuces I got from Seed Savers Exchange: Amish Deer Tongue, Bronze Arrowhead, Red Velvet and others. I actually considered tearing the sucker down, but The Wife had grown attached to it (no idea why; I don't think she touched the thing all last summer).

    Rototilling will be for areas to house tomatoes, carrots, beets, limas, etc.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #4 - April 9th, 2008, 2:21 pm
    Post #4 - April 9th, 2008, 2:21 pm Post #4 - April 9th, 2008, 2:21 pm
    I don't know that this is helpful information, but our Park District plot is tilled in early April (It's been tilled already.) Their timing may have something to do with how heavy-duty the machine they use is.

    I'd try asking at the place where you're renting the rototiller...
  • Post #5 - April 9th, 2008, 2:23 pm
    Post #5 - April 9th, 2008, 2:23 pm Post #5 - April 9th, 2008, 2:23 pm
    The basic rule of tilling is that the faster it goes, the worse a job you're doing (for any given tiller, that is -- I'm sure there are some that are more efficient than others).

    I don't know the name of the spike at the back that stabs into the ground, but the one my family passes around each spring is missing it. The only effective way to till with this device is to drag it backwards. It's a lot of effort, but does a very nice job that way.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #6 - April 9th, 2008, 2:35 pm
    Post #6 - April 9th, 2008, 2:35 pm Post #6 - April 9th, 2008, 2:35 pm
    the bigger the rototiller the better. unfortunately a good one is too heavy to lift into the trunk of your car.
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #7 - April 9th, 2008, 4:27 pm
    Post #7 - April 9th, 2008, 4:27 pm Post #7 - April 9th, 2008, 4:27 pm
    Hi,

    Not time to till: squeeze the soil together and it sticks together, then the earth is too wet. Any tillings will cause clumps rather than break them up.

    Time to till: Squeeze the soil together and it does not want to stick together instead it falls apart. Now you will get the rewards of tilling and not cause damage to your yard.

    Have fun!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #8 - April 9th, 2008, 4:58 pm
    Post #8 - April 9th, 2008, 4:58 pm Post #8 - April 9th, 2008, 4:58 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Hi,

    Not time to till: squeeze the soil together and it sticks together, then the earth is too wet. Any tillings will cause clumps rather than break them up.

    Time to till: Squeeze the soil together and it does not want to stick together instead it falls apart. Now you will get the rewards of tilling and not cause damage to your yard.

    Have fun!

    Regards,


    Good, sensible rules of thumb. Thanks!
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #9 - April 9th, 2008, 5:44 pm
    Post #9 - April 9th, 2008, 5:44 pm Post #9 - April 9th, 2008, 5:44 pm
    We have a Troy Bilt Horse. Have been using it for over 20 years. Does a great job.
    ELLEN
    RAISED IN ROGERS PARK SJS CLASS OF 70
    LIVING IN NORTH CENTRAL WI SINCE 1987
  • Post #10 - April 9th, 2008, 6:51 pm
    Post #10 - April 9th, 2008, 6:51 pm Post #10 - April 9th, 2008, 6:51 pm
    Just a few years ago the small John Deer tiller my parents had bought when I was a child was laid to rest in the ol scrap heap in the sky. Every year my dad used to call 'the Tiller Guy' who he would pay $20 to come out with a huge monster tiller and turn over our garden plot and beds. After that we'd just use our little John Deer to do the in-betweens and the rest. I was thinking of purchasing a new tiller this year but now that I know that you can rent them I might go that route in-stead.
    One Mint Julep was the cause of it all.
  • Post #11 - April 9th, 2008, 7:09 pm
    Post #11 - April 9th, 2008, 7:09 pm Post #11 - April 9th, 2008, 7:09 pm
    I will say, a negative to early tilling is that I usually have to turn over my bed again by hand when I'm ready to plant, as the heavy spring rains tend to compact the soil - but it's waaay easier to turn it over than if it were untilled, so I've always requested tilling...
  • Post #12 - April 9th, 2008, 7:31 pm
    Post #12 - April 9th, 2008, 7:31 pm Post #12 - April 9th, 2008, 7:31 pm
    Mhays wrote:I will say, a negative to early tilling is that I usually have to turn over my bed again by hand when I'm ready to plant, as the heavy spring rains tend to compact the soil - but it's waaay easier to turn it over than if it were untilled, so I've always requested tilling...


    I turned over my whole garden and broke up the soil with a pitchfork last year and this was land that had never been turned over. It was a day of sweating and it was hard and really great (I mean that), but I'm thinking this year even if I till early, it will still be easier to loosen the soil right where I'm planting. Tilling: definitely in the cards.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #13 - April 15th, 2008, 9:27 am
    Post #13 - April 15th, 2008, 9:27 am Post #13 - April 15th, 2008, 9:27 am
    it should be dry otherwsie you gets clumps as someone mentioned..
    I till mine in fall (to plant my garlic bulbs) then again in Spring for the summer veggies
  • Post #14 - April 15th, 2008, 9:46 am
    Post #14 - April 15th, 2008, 9:46 am Post #14 - April 15th, 2008, 9:46 am
    Head's Red BBQ wrote:it should be dry otherwsie you gets clumps as someone mentioned..
    I till mine in fall (to plant my garlic bulbs) then again in Spring for the summer veggies


    Right, yes, though I think I may have a shot tomorrow. I'm going to keep an eye on soil dryness (at the moment, it's too moist), but if it stays sunny and dry today and tomorrow morning, I may get a rototiller and give it a try tomorrow afternoon (I need to till my whole front lawn, too, and I'm eager to get non-edible grass in there soon). Rain is forecast Thursday through Saturday, so Wednesday is the window.

    At $8/hr to rent the rototiller, if it doesn't work, I'm out maybe $16 max; if it works, a big (for me) project is complete.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #15 - April 15th, 2008, 3:26 pm
    Post #15 - April 15th, 2008, 3:26 pm Post #15 - April 15th, 2008, 3:26 pm
    David, did you actually eradicate your creeping charlie? I ask because my lawn is about 1/3 lawn, 2/3 creeping charlie and it's driving me nuts.

    Suzy
    " There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
    - Frank Zappa
  • Post #16 - April 15th, 2008, 3:55 pm
    Post #16 - April 15th, 2008, 3:55 pm Post #16 - April 15th, 2008, 3:55 pm
    sdritz wrote:David, did you actually eradicate your creeping charlie? I ask because my lawn is about 1/3 lawn, 2/3 creeping charlie and it's driving me nuts.

    Suzy


    After several patient summers of pulling and cajoling Creeping Charlie to leave me alone, I last October pulled every last strand up by hand and then sprayed tiny (and probably some nearly invisible) strandlets with a generous blast of Round-Up. I consider poison a last resort, but I had tried the manual approach and was getting nowhere. I used the Round-Up late last year, so I'm guessing/hoping that with the snows and spring rains a lot of it has washed away (I'm using this stuff on my front lawn; not my back lawn, which is nearer to the garden). I was just examining my lawn, and there is no evidence of the CC. Conditions seem right for rototilling lawn and garden.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #17 - April 18th, 2008, 12:19 pm
    Post #17 - April 18th, 2008, 12:19 pm Post #17 - April 18th, 2008, 12:19 pm
    Turns out, rototilling was very easy and actually (dare I say?) fun. It was so much fun, in fact, that I actually rototilled some of my neighbors' lawns. The machine was much easier to control than I thought it would be, though it was pretty small (which, for my purposes, was fine).
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #18 - April 18th, 2008, 12:56 pm
    Post #18 - April 18th, 2008, 12:56 pm Post #18 - April 18th, 2008, 12:56 pm
    Just a comment that rototilling isn't the only option. I've had success with no-till techniques. We have very heavy clay soil that takes forever to dry out in the spring, so we went to raised beds. That's a lot of effort the first year, but if you enclose them, it's easy in successive years.

    Ours aren't so fancy as the ones in this article -- just cheap unstained pine -- but they served for about 15 years. (We ought to rebuild them this year.)

    If you do raised beds, do not make them wider than twice the width you can easily reach -- the 4 feet recommended may be too wide for some. You want to be able to reach the center of the bed without stepping in it. And if mulching with landscape fabric or black plastic, the most readily available/cheapest kinds come in 3-foot-wide rolls.

    Also, do not fill with passively made compost that didn't get hot enough to kill all the thistle seeds!

    We do have a mini tiller that Himself sometimes uses in the beds, mainly, I suspect, because like David Hammond, he thinks it's fun.
  • Post #19 - April 21st, 2008, 5:50 pm
    Post #19 - April 21st, 2008, 5:50 pm Post #19 - April 21st, 2008, 5:50 pm
    I grew up in Northern California, where the use of ground-covers instead of grass is standard. When I bought my first house in KC, I noticed that a patch of my lawn wasn't grass, but instead this sort of coquille-St-Jacques shaped leaved, spreading plant, with pretty purplish flowers in the Spring. 'Well', thought I, 'I know how to grow ground-covers, don't I?' And I did, and do. Mow reasonably close to the ground, mild fertilization with a decent, balanced fertilizer, and your ground-cover will flourish.

    My neighbors couldn't believe what I was doing, but what did *I* know, I was from California.

    In a couple of years I had a lawn that couldn't be beat: it was cliimatically sound, didn't get grubs, didn't get muddy, mowed beautifully, stayed green all season long--which neither the hot-season NOR cool-season grasses do in KC--kept the weeds out, and essentially took care of itself.

    It's all in your head Hammond, all in your head. :)

    Geo

    Image
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)

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