Readers Debate Tilling
I am definitely “anti-tiller” after reading Ruth Stout’s new recommendations in “Organic Gardening and Farming” decades ago. I learned the hard way that I have to remember to pull back the heavy mulch in the spring so the sun can warm the soil [tomato seeds don’t sprout at all in cold soil!]. Then when the sprouts come up and the soil gets warm I pull the heavy mulch closer to the stems but not against them. No need to water even in long dry spells.
Heavy mulch comes from grass clippings [my own, not chemically treated from other people’s lawns] and leaves. Can’t add kitchen scraps because we have bears, racoons and other critters that would trash my fences. 🙂
Well, honestly I’m pro-tiller. I was a member or my FFA in high school and for my summer S.A.E. Project I grew and maintained a home garden. Living in the city I sectioned off a part of my mom’s back yard that had no grass. I tilled the ground using a plain garden hoe. It was really hard work and took three days to get it busted up because of the clay. I grew my crops all summer and when school came back around I followed up with my teacher. He entered me into the FFA state competition and I won for area 3 the agricultural proficiency award for the state of Georgia. Since then I have always used a tiller and I have had much better results and no sore back. Using a tiller aerates the soil and pushes compost down. I also enjoy the therapeutic aspect of running the machine. I’m not a farmer and my gardens have been for pleasure, so I don’t know if one way or the other produces more yield. Tilling by hand makes you feel good, but your back hurts so I chose the easier method. I hope this is helpful.