We live inside the city limits located on nearly an acre (including the land that our home sits on). We usually plant a garden on approximately 1/5th of our back yard. This last garden season we had a huge problem with squash bugs and bean beetles so we decided to till now to expose any little buggers and their larvae to the cold temps. We also wanted aerate the soil prior to a big snow. I am so excited because we have nearly a third of our back yard tilled! This really expands the possibility of what we will be able to grow this year.
Bringing Out the Big Guns
We have a smaller engine powered rototiller but my husband decided it would be good to rent a larger tractor with a tiller attachment this year. We rented it for about $300 for the entire weekend, expecting the tilling job to take a while. We were so surprised when he was able to make 4, count 'em, 4 passes in less than 3 hours time. We could have tilled several more gardens over the weekend!
|Our Garden Facing West|
|Garden Facing South|
Money Saving Idea
Next year, we thought it might be a great idea to pool together with several other likeminded families and share the cost of the tractor rental. We could easily till 4 or 5 large gardens over a weekend. This might be something to consider if you are wanting to do some major tilling but don't want to spend major bucks to do so! You would of course want to make sure that you are the one operating the tractor if you are the signing responsible party for the rental of the machine. You could ask the other families to share more of the burden of the cost if you are the person doing the work.
|Panoramic View of Our Garden|
Some things to keep in mind when tilling,
- Remember to till no deeper than your topsoil depth. I believe this would be a maximum of a foot deep in most areas.
- Also make sure you are not tilling when the soil is too damp. The idea is to loosen your soil, not compact it further. Tilling your garden when it is too wet will create a hardened mess, nearly impossible to plant in. Even walking on freshly tilled soil can make it compacted, rendering your hard work useless.
- Even if you till on a large scale prior to planting, you may find that you want to lightly till again one or more times in the spring, prior to planting to kill the baby weeds and grass seedling emerging. I have found that lightly tilling or hoeing several times at 7 to 10 day intervals in the spring GREATLY reduces the weed yanking I must perform later in the garden season. (Grass is my most hated "weed") as it seems to reproduce faster than rabbits!
- I've met a few people that say they don't till and have no issues but I'm unsure that this would be a possibility in my yard. I just have so much grass that migrates into my garden plot! I'd be interested in hearing from folks who don't till their garden. I'm all about less work and more harvest!
One more thought on the tractor rental, $300 may seem like a big expense but the time savings was so profound it is well worth it. We generally consider purchasing an item preferrable over renting but in this case, my husband figured out that we could rent a tractor twice a year and still come out ahead over purchasing one of that size. And if we are able to connect with other families and share the cost as I mentioned above, then the rental is even more economical.
Feel free to share photos of your garden in progress! I'd love to see them!