Sunday, April 3, 2011

Creating a NO Till Orgnaic Garden Space

 I have never created a no till garden space but I started reading about how to do one and decided I would try that in a space I had already being using as a garden.  Apparently, to keep weeds down it is suggested to till your garden in the fall to freeze any weeds seeds that may have gotten into the garden.  It is also suggested to till in the fall so your garden is ready for the Spring plants and your garden is too wet yet to till.  Well I didn't till last fall and I wanted my cool weather garden in so I am try no till gardening.  I hope it works, if it does, yeah, no more waiting on the weather to till the garden.  I will be trying to till my garden in the fall to make this process easier.  The picture to the right is a view of the no till area I will be using.
I will be laying down  at least 4 layers of newspaper on the ground and then adding at least 6 inches of shredded paper on top of that.  I am leaving about four inches between this layer of mulch to add my spinach and lettuce seeds as pictured on the left.  These row are about 20 foot long.  I use about one package of seeds per row.  Have a watering can handy and water down the sheet paper then put down the shredded paper or straw then wet it down again.  It does not have to be soggy just wetted.

Lettuce and Spinach like the cooler weather so these can be planted in Missouri just as soon as you can work the ground.  Usually in Missouri the snow is done by the end of February so I thought I was safe planting mid such luck we had a dusting of snow the third week of March.  I don't think it hurt the seeds I had already put in and if helped wetting down the paper so it
wouldn't fly away.  I had three rows in by the time it snowed, two rows of spinach and one row of Butterhead lettuce.  We will see if the snow hurt, since the ground did not freeze it is probably ok.

I got my shredded paper from a local company.  I suggest to contact any company that may shred their paper and ask if you can recycle it.  Good for the environment and great for them as it saves on trash space.

I started putting sheet paper and shredded paper down on one side of the row and then down on the other side.  All subsequent rows became easier as I only had to put one row of organic matter down before planting.
Once the paper was down on both sides of the row I use my potato fork to loosen dirt to plant the seeds.  Then I loosened the dirt more with my hands and created a furrow for the seeds, put the seed in the furrow and covered with dirt.  I found this to be a lot of work.  So the second row I did I hoed the dirt next the the paper then put my row of paper down next to that.  This was an easier way to have the dirt ready for the seeds.
The thick paper on both side of the row are supposed to keep the weeds down.  Of course the weeds will grow up where you are planting the seeds but those are easily identified and pulled. Since you are only pulling weeds in the seed row and not the space between the row this will save lots of back breaking work hoeing and pulling.

Putting a 6 inch layer of raw organic matter between the rows really works, plus this layers allows you to walk in the wettest gardens without getting muddy.  I was picking vegetables right after a major rain storm where it was extremely muddy and got very little mud on my shoes.  Great way to garden, saves on weeding, feeds the plants as the matter decays, gets rid of garbage (re leaving the land fills) and allows all weather picking.  NOTE:  straw or leaves can also be used.

I will be putting in 4 additional rows of lettuce and as I pick the spinach and lettuce I will replant one more time before it is too hot to grow the cool weather plants.

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