Why you Shouldn’t Till Your Garden if you Love your Soil 

Tillers seem to be that go-to tool we’ve always used for what it was made to do – break up the earth. We till to clear a plot to start a garden, turn weeds under, or just mix up the soil.

But is tilling really the best way to get your soil in shape? While it might be the easiest and fastest way to start, it’s NOT the best way. No-till gardening is where it’s at. If you love your soil, ditch the tiller!

To understand why no-till gardening is the best thing we can do to prepare and maintain an area for planting (and fewer weeds), we need first to understand the consequences of tilling.

The Problems with Tilling

THOUSANDS OF WEED SEEDS ARE BROUGHT TO THE SURFACE. Seeds that were buried and dormant due to a lack of sunlight are brought to the surface and exposed to the light of day. Ironically, we often till to turn under existing weeds. But in the process, we’re bringing up thousands more to take their place.

SOIL INTEGRITY IS DESTROYED. When tiller tines tear into the soil, they destroy nature’s infrastructure to a healthy soil food web. The undisturbed soil consists of a network of billions of beneficial organisms from bacteria and fungi, nematodes, arthropods and insects, and of course earthworms. Collectively they form a thriving, nutrient-rich, yet fragile ecosystem.

PROPERTIES THAT CREATE SOIL DRAINAGE, MOISTURE RETENTION AND AERATION ARE ELIMINATED. In a healthy (undisturbed) soil food web, material that helps soil particles bind together to improve aeration, water holding capacity, and drainage is created. Tilling destroys all of that.

SOIL NUTRIENTS ARE LOST. As the rapidly turning tines mix up soil like a blender, much of the stored carbon and nitrogen is quickly eliminated. The rapid introduction of oxygen sets off a process where sequestered carbon is lost and valuable nitrogen is consumed in the process. The post-tilled soil is far less nutrient rich than before.

No-Till Gardening is the Soil-loving Weed-Hater’s Alternative to Tilling

In a no-till garden, we still have the same objectives: a garden with fewer weeds, improved soil, and continued improvement.

But in a no-till scenario, nature does the soil prep for you. The key though is that it takes more time initially. Ideally, you want to plan ahead, at least by a season. That’s enough time to allow nature to prepare the top surface for planting. From then on it only gets better and better after that.   Read more here

Source: Why you Shouldn’t Till Your Garden if you Love your Soil | joe gardener® | Organic Gardening Like a Pro

Using soil to sink carbon may be our planet’s best hope to combat climate change

Agriculture, with its unique ability to sequester carbon on, as Carl Sagan might say, billions and billions of acres, is the only industry poised to reverse global warming. Improved management of cropping and grazing heals land, boosts soil fertility, prevents flooding, enhances drought resilience, increases the nutritional content of food and restores wildlife habitat — while sequestering carbon.

Reforestation, too, plays a key role in the biological solution for clean water and climate change. Trees are an integral part of the water cycle and lock up carbon that would otherwise be warming the planet. As well, they provide habitat to birds and mammals.

For too long, we’ve been diminishing the quality of our land, waterways and atmosphere through agricultural practices that degrade soil. Fortunately, alternatives are available. The growing scientific and policy consensus is that improving soil to retain rainfall and capture carbon makes sense for everyone. Vermont’s leadership in this agricultural revolution, capitalizing on the environmental and market opportunities it provides, makes ecological and fiscal sense.

Read more here Rutland Vermont Herald : http://www.rutlandherald.com/articles/using-soil-to-fight-climate-change/