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Letter To The Editor

Even More Reasons Not To Till

I have three gardening ideas/facts that I want to share with you guys.

1) This first one is just another important reason NOT TO TILL. Plants actually communicate. They talk. And they have important things to talk about, things that can save one another’s lives. For example, when a swarm of insects begins attacking a plant, it begins producing natural pesticides within itself to combat the pests (perhaps not all plants can do this, but many can). However, it usually takes the plant a while to produce the pesticide, and usually the pests can do a lot of damage before the pesticide is ready. So, the attacked plant tells its fellow nearby plants to begin producing the pesticide in advance, since the pests will likely move on to neighboring plants.

How plants communicate is through almost-microscopic fungal “wires” that connect plants by the roots. So, when we till, we destroy those wires and hence the plant’s means of communication, and plants become more vulnerable to pests, disease and natural disasters.

Moral: DON’T TILL.

2) One of my favorite gardening methods is hugelkultur, a gardening method in which large rotten logs are heaped together and buried in dirt, manure, and/or compost. The bed looks like a pile of dirt, and plants are planted into the side. The logs decompose over a few decades and produce rich compost. The logs also become spongey as they rot, and so they hold water. The plants’ roots enter the wood and can absorb this water, and hence the hugelkultur bed requires almost no watering. The hugelkultur method is space efficient since it utilizes vertical space.

3) I also like straw bale gardening. You basically just spread manure on a straw bale, spray the manure into the bale with a hose, and then plant. The bale decomposes and makes a rich natural compost.

You can look up details on these methods online, of course.


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