To till or not to till, that is the question

I have been gardening all my life, starting early on my parents farm. It isn’t easy, and it is a lot of work no matter how you decide to do it. I have had gardens using conventional tilling, in raised beds with purchased soil, and the no-till layered way.  Last season I shared with you my start of a  No-till Layered Kitchen Garden and I want to update you on how the garden is progressing. The nice thing about layered gardens is that with each passing season the soil continues to get richer and richer from all the mulch that is added.

Just a month ago the garden looked like this. Here in my area of Michigan the average last frost date is May 26 and the last snow fall is in April.

These pictures show what the garden beds looked like after the snows with the perennial herbs springing forth. You can see that last years final mulch layer was leaves from our yard. Without disturbing the soil, as much as possible, I have planted most of my garden.

I have spring peas up around the natural arbor and a chirping sparrow has built her nest in it. This year I am able to take more time enjoying and relaxing in my garden. There has been little to no weeding and I have been patiently waiting on the weather.

I like the no-till layered gardening method better than any form I have tried.

Here is an example of what happens when you till the soil. I had to do some digging with a shovel and except for the larger sun flowers and a few green beans in these photos all the other growing green stuff are weeds. Where the ground was not disturbed there are no weeds.

No-till gardening is a natural method of gardening that rejects mechanical means of horticulture, such as plowing, disking or dragging the earth using machines.

This year I am putting down a layer of straw after everything is planted. It is more appealing to me to have a consistent top layer of mulch in my kitchen garden which is right outside my windows.

I do not use any commercial fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. My garden is completely natural and organic.


Besides my kitchen garden I also have a larger layered no-till garden that has raspberries, strawberries, corn, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, squash, and zucchini to name a few. In these two photos you can see some strawberries with newly laid down grass clippings. Do not place these green clippings up close to the plants until they have turned brown. They put off a lot of heat and will burn the plants up. In the other photo I have planted corn by simply laying the corn seed on top of the last leaf layer and adding a layer of  purchased soil on top of the seeds to the prescribed depth. Keep the soil moist until the seeds are up.

The only gardening tools I use are a hoe, shovel and rake.

Tips: Last year I reported how I used cardboard and left over dry wall for my weed barriers. Both worked. I don’t like the dry wall now because it is starting to break up and it looks somewhat messy to me. I am now picking broken pieces out. The cardboard has completely decomposed after just one season. I am now finding plastic packaging tape in the layers that I neglected to remove from the cardboard. Make sure all tape, stickers and staples are removed before using.

These photos were taken on May 26, 2016-West Michigan (except for the two snow pics).

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4 thoughts on “To till or not to till, that is the question”

    1. Exactly! I’m finding it to be a lot less pressing. Especially when I don’t use commercial weed killers. Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions. I would be happy to help you out.

      Liked by 1 person

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