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To till or not when starting a new market garden bed  RSS feed

 
                              
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i am interested in low tillage or even no tillage systems. I am
starting a fairly large new garden bed (small market size). I am
fairly familiar with no tillage, raised beds, however i do not have
enough materials on hand to start a raised bed process. The area i
want to grow in is currently full of weeds and grass, thick growth. Is
my best bet to till and to quickly mulch the whyole area right after?
When it comes to sowing seeds thereafter, do i need to clear a
specific area of the mulch so that my seeds will sprout? i read a
paper by Masinobu Fukuoka who talks about sowing seeds right along
with the mulch, but i wonder about the effectiveness of this practive
since mulch is also a deterent of weed growth. Am i misunderstanding
something? So basically, to simplify, I am interested in starting a
new bed and im looking for the best way to go about it, other than
raised beds, And how the process of mulching should be applied
thereafter when seeding. Thanks for your help.
 
Kelda Miller
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Hi! I've had problems mulching with new beds in the spring because it often slows down the warming up of the soil! Since it's February and you don't have time to do a sheet-compost system and wait (although that may be a good alternative if you can stand the wait), this is what I'd suggest. Tilling, or even hand-working the area, being very careful not to walk on anything once it's 'earthed'. Then take a shovel and scoop out the paths in front of you, one scoop to one side, one to the other side. In effect you are shaping the beds by only walking on the path. Ta da! It's raised beds all around.

Then what I've done is start seeds, do transplants, etc. according to soil warmage (this technique also speeds that up). And then mulch around the plants once they're 'up' enough. Also by this time there's some grass-mowing going on somewhere, so I leave that on the lawn to dry up a bit, and then mulch around the plants with grass-clippings.

I hope these suggestions help
 
Dave Boehnlein
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
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Just as a note on Fukuoka's work...His techniques aren't universal. They worked because of his climate, elevation, crop selection, etc. I know other people who've tried the Fukuoka system here and met with little success (I wonder how much running grass he had to contend with?).
 
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