So I am new to no-till some what. I have a pretty good understanding on what makes up good soil health when it comes to building soil from scratch for raised beds, and with great success I might add. I should add I just got into mulching the last two years, and wow the weeds are way less and the soil stays alive in my beds! So I will get right into what I am looking for information about with just a bit of lead in...
I just moved in a 100 year old farm cabin house on 27 acres last week. I am in zone 4 in the upper peninsula of Michigan. There is a large open field in front I want to start my garden plot for a csa I plan to build up. There is already a 100 foot caterpillar tunnel greenhouse there and everything! The previous homesteaders used the same field for crops as I will. They had the soil tested all over and this field has some surprising good fertility. The only issue is there is evidence of a bit of a hard pan, but the top many inches seem to have no real compaction issues. Likely the hard pan underneath is from all the years of running tillers, cultivators, and who knows how much steal and tractors in general has been though and on top of the soil. So this is where I am starting...
My immediate solution to solving the fields hard pan issue is to never drive onto the soil. I really like the idea of minimizing or completely eliminating unsustainable gas powered soil disturbers. Both for cost reasons and general sustainability. I plan to use cover crops such as diakon radish and oats in some sort of configuration to help break up the hard pan below. I will also add I am brand new to the use of cover crops and green manures, but have a good understanding of the benefits they bring. I just have zero personal experience with the use of them. I also don't have a real definitive plan as of yet on how and when to implement. If anyone has any suggestion on that particular topic too please type away.
Seeing how I haven't had the time to plot out my garden this year, and clearly wasn't able to have field beds prepped already last spring as I would normally I am starting from scratch plain a simple. I was planning on using a rototiller first year, but then I decided not to. So what I did is took some hay and straw mulch and starting laying it over the unprepared areas over the growing vegetation. I watered it down nicely(then it rained hard, lol), and waited a few days till I had some time to plant a few things. My question is if I plant the day of or a few days later upon laying the mulch atop will I get nitrogen lockout bad enough to stunt my plants growth? I did no pulling of weeds. I added no compost. I just added the mulch on top and planted my broccoli today. I also wanted to do this in the greenhouse I have in the same field next to where I started to plant my brassicas. I know this is a type of no-till method similar to using the lasagna gardening method, but I likely wont get to adding compost immediately. I do definitely plan to add something at least by the fall before the snow so I am more prepared for next year. Do you think my plants will grow this year if I start off this way? Any thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated.
They should do fine this year, at least from the perspective of what you have done so far--mother nature and nature may have other ideas before harvest. Most gardeners worry way to much about a super fine tilth. It does make planting easier and an even stand of sown crops, but not that critical for transplants.
If you want to speed it up, hire a subsoiler or key line plow to break the hardpan ONCE. Or radish in the fall.
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Thanks for the reply. Makes me feel a bit better.. What kind of mother nature's "other ideas" would this include? Also I plan to buy radish seed for the hard pan this year. I am not going to use more that 20% of the field for crops this full year. Could I plant many flushes of radish this year without issue do you think? This is an annual crop, right? So I really don't need to worry about killing it before it seeds or something, do I? I guess I'm not sure. I may have to open up a thread in the cover crop section for that one.
What do you have in that there bucket? It wouldn't be a tiny ad by any chance ...
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