No till experiment # 1

Gardening always involves experimentation. Lack of perfection in a garden might be exasperating for some, but it can also be freeing. There is plenty of room for experiments and learning!

One experiment of this season on the Uplift Farm is a few rows of no till planting. This area was corn over the summer, which I knocked down but did not till in. In nature, dry matter decomposes on top of the ground. It breaks down faster of course if it is chopped up and tilled in the top few inches, but breakdown of the carbon components also ties up nitrogen in the soil. So for something highly carbonaceous like corn stalks, and in an area I wanted to plant in again for winter, I decided just to leave the cornstalks on top of the ground.

Next I laid a thick strip of compost over each row, and let it sit for two months. Over time, the organic matter of the compost will decompose and enter the soil beneath.

When I transplanted into these rows earlier this week, I set the plants a little deeper than usual.

The compost and cornstalks provide a moisture conserving and insulating mulch around the plant.

Coming next: experiment #2, planting squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes in september

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