View Full Version : To till or not to till

May. 23, 2012, 08:46 PM
The rototiller has some problems this year, so I am wondering if I should just dig holes for my two foot high tomato plants. I can probably get the tiller running again in a few weeks but heck it's almost June ! What does anyone think ? Thanks

May. 23, 2012, 09:50 PM
Dig holes. I radically down sized my gardens this year. I did not rototill. Just dug holes. Plants are doing fine. Even have 'maters on them already, athough I was literally weeks late getting them into the ground this year.

May. 24, 2012, 12:27 AM
I tilled once when we put the garden in but have dug holes ever since. Much easier! I dig huge holes then fill it with compost and bagged garden soil and plant in the middle. Over the years the soil in the entire garden has gotten much better but there is still tons of clay so the holes are sort of big pots in the ground.

May. 24, 2012, 08:57 AM

Tilling on any sort of regular basis actually destroys soil integrity.

Layer on a thick pile of at least partially composted manure, staying off the plant itself, and that will help keep weeds/grass right at the roots from competing for water, and will provide a slow-drip mild fertilizer, as well as helping keep the soil more moist. You can top that off with straw, though you might want to break up the top layer of manure occasionally if it starts drying out.

Next year think about Square Foot Gardening, using 2x6 boards for "raised" beds :) I'm doing that now (several on here are), and then all my extra squash and maters went into holes dug right in the ground where my old veggie bed used to be.

May. 24, 2012, 12:34 PM
All right - dig it is! I already have lots of compost spread over the area; I will just dig holes and push the compost in but make sure to leave enough around the plants for mulch. Hope I can get the rototiller back up the hill...

Thanks everyone!

May. 24, 2012, 12:59 PM
Another method to keeping weeds down is to take many (many) layers of regular newspaper... wet it really good, then put the compost/soil on top of that. I moved my garden from the field to my "yard" and have done this so I didn't have to till the grass under (which never works anyway). It's often called Lasagna Gardening.

May. 24, 2012, 01:13 PM
People here just dig in tomato plants and potatoes, only tilling deep enough to draw furrows for direct seeding - can't do much more with the clay soil and the last thing you want to do is bring more clay to the surface. Dig the hole treble the plant (assuming a small transplant) add whatever soil amendments you wish, including some pulverised egg shells or a spoonful of skim milk powder and that is that.