Advice for starting a no till garden.
Here's what my Daddy did when he planted potatoes. He dug a lil furrow and planted potatoes and covered them ever so lightly with dirt. Then he covered that with a little hay. Then as the plants grew, he covered with more hay. He kept doing that until plants were waist high. Then when potaoes were ready to harvest, he would just turn back the hay and there were the potaoes. No digging.
When starting your garden, mow the grass short, place cardboard or thick layers of newspapers over the top. On top, you put horse or sheep manure, lawn clippings, weeds, lucerne hay. It will work well with potatoes until it starts to break down. Just make sure to put plenty of covering over your potatoes as they grow because they will be green if they aren't covered up from the sun. Next year you will be able to plant peas, zucchinis, tomatoes, pumpkins or cucumbers. The year after, you can plant beans or corn as the soil develops. Good luck!
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If you can find a horse farm that uses straw as bedding in their stalls, see if they will sell you a load, or they may even give you a load. I am lucky because we have Oaklawn Race Track here. They hold races from January until April, and I can get all the straw I need during that time. (And, incidentally, the straw pile will yield large earthworms to add to your garden or to use as fishbait.) Use it to mulch your garden. Keep adding it as it settles. Actually the bottom of the layer will be composting into the soil. The horses have trampled it, making it easier to spread around than straw from the bales, plus the horse manure is great fertilizer. It keeps the weeds down. You may see some oats come up, but they are easily removed as are the few stray weeds that may grow up through the straw if it is thin in places. In the fall, after you clean out all the spent plants, cover the whole garden with a heavy layer for winter. The rain and snow will help it "compost" and it will keep all those winter and early spring weeds from taking over. Come planting time, rake it aside to plant and then pull it back up along your rows, and around your tomato plants, adding more if needed. You will never have to till the ground or hoe weeds, and it will hold the moisture in your garden. The only "work" left is harvesting the crops.
Harlean from Arkansas
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