Learn / Ask The Landscape Professional
I'm getting ready to rototill my vegetable garden for spring planting, but I recently heard I might be making a mistake. What's the story? Jeff
Contrary to popular belief, rototilling your garden is not a good idea,
especially if you do it to the point where the soil is powdery and the ground
is completely pulverized. Rototilling does far more harm than good. Healthy
soil is full of billions of helpful bacteria, worms, fungi, and microorganisms.
Soil also contains a healthy, crumbly structure which has organic matter in
various stages of decomposition which allow water, air, and nutrients to be
carried to plant roots. When you use a rototiller, healthy soil structure is
lost, microorganism activity in the soil is disturbed and killed and essential
earthworms are chopped up and their tunnels destroyed. When the original soil
structure is lost by rototilling, it loses its ability to drain properly and
will get muddy and hard to work in the spring. Healthy soil has air spaces that
hold water and allow plant roots to grow; after rototilling, the soil loses its
air pockets and becomes compacted which causes plants to underperform. Weeds also
become a nightmare with rototilled soil. There are billions of weed seeds buried
in the soil, that when brought to the surface, get growing like crazy. In short,
rototilling is a very bad thing that creates a lifeless soil.
So what should you do? Take a pitchfork, hoe or shovel, hand loosen the
first few inches of the soil and keep it crumbly and lumpy. That's it.
Your living soil will thank you and your plantings will thrive.
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About Linda Lillie
Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier
landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry
service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of
Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national
award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.