Practice minimum soil tillage in your garden

An old myth: For whatever reason there is an entrenched theory amongst many gardeners that it is correct to turn the soil at least a spade deep in autumn and again in spring, the reason being that this would greatly benefit the soil and bring up nutrients from below, and will kill all the pests harbouring in the ground.

Nothing further could be further from the truth. The depth of a spade is more or less the depth of the topsoil. By digging and turning the soil we disturb, even destroy, the finely tuned soil structure and its functional soil-food-web.

Practice minimum tillage:

  • Low impact cultivation corrects soil structure, has a beneficial effect on soil moisture, aeration and temperature.
  • Shallow tillage, like hoeing, raking, adding compost, mulching and growing green manures achieves the results you desire without all the physical effort wasted when deep digging and turning the soil.
  • The upper layer of mulch and decay is teeming with microbial activity which needs oxygen to function. By turning the soil upside down we transfer these micro-organisms to regions which are poor in oxygen and they rapidly die.
  • At the same time if we turn over the soil we transfer the micro-organisms requiring a carbon-rich environment to an oxygen-rich environment, which is also detrimental to their proper functioning or wellbeing and they too rapidly decline.

This tip is an extract from “Essential Organics - The Essence of Organic Gardening” written by Irmela Reichardt and edited by Margie Frayne. It is provided courtesy of Forrest Publications.

For more information about the book or to purchase it, please contact Rosslyn Press Publishers:

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