good resources for switching to no-till?all-seasons?

resonanteye(8a/b)July 21, 2008

Hi!

I've been reading the forum for the last month or so, there's so much good information in here! I have questions about all-season planting and about no-till gardening, I hope it is ok to post in this section. Let me know if not!

I have lived in my house for two years, and I have been gardening for exactly that long. I always lived in cities before and killed many houseplants but never tried to grow anything outdoors or for food.

I had a lot of mishaps last year (eating crocus bulbs that I thought were onions, yuk, losing a shovel in a pile of "compost", cutting my feet to shreds on hard barcmulch, planting a space two or three times because I forgot I planted it...and pulling up all my radishes because they seemed like weeds to me...among other things)

This year I found the forum! So the mishaps are...still fast and furious but less upsetting, since now I know I am not the only one.

I wanted to introduce myself and also ask a question, about no0till gardening. Last year I dug up turf to start my garden, added compost, manure, and stuff. I don't want to use any pesticides; I have a tiny dog and worry about him eating it or something. He does roam the garden.

I have a heap of compost-y type debris that I turn and water once in a while now. I've got a lot of perennials and some shrubs and things here and there. How could I go about switching over to no-till, with plants already in the ground? And what about the weeds?

I tried making a patch ready at one point by laying down newspaper very thick, but the thistles crawled under to the edges and came up there. also, pigweed, which did the same thing. Will straw mulch prevent them from growing so much? Will not tilling help? Where can I get information about setting this up?

I also have a lot of grass trying to take over, it pops up everywhere, I can't figure out how to get the lawn to be separate from the garden. I tried making an edge of that no-grow plastic sheeting held down with mulch, and put up a low fence. The fencing I used is just like little boards though and the grass invades...my neighbor mows the lawn areas in exchange for tomatoes (the one thing I have gotten tons of) but he won't mow right up to the edge. Then the grass gets very high, and I hate having to whack/trim it...is there a way to set up my edges to work better when he mows up to it? And to keep the damn grass out?

My garden is pretty weedy at the best of times. Is this ok? I don't really know enough (this being my first garden) to know when it's too much.

Also, I live in Oregon. I have no idea what I can grow in the fall or winter- I've only planted in summer so far, and let the garden kind of fall to waste all winter both years. I had some spinach come up this spring really early and a bunch of garlic i forgot about reappeared; this makes me think I could plant some things in the winter or fall here? But it gets so wet I don't know what would actually grow. Anyone have any advice for me about this?

Sorry if it's a lot of questions, I'm just excited to get some help finally! Thanks for all the information I have already gotten here, you guys are great.

some pictures from the garden:

Here is a link that might be useful: more pictures of my garden

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tom_n_6bzone(Western Maryland 6b)

I have a dog too, but I put up that cheap wire short fencing to keep him out.

Some purists would disagree with me, but I think you have to usually dig a good bed before you can have an effective no-till garden. So, it sounds like you have done that.

Once the bed is established the surface should never be disturbed. Add compost, manure, peat, lime and fertilizer as top dressing. They would be pulled down naturally into the subsoil by watering/rain and worms. Weeding is largely replaced by the use of mulch. By adding material in layers, the underlying soil surface remains pliable, making it easy for roots of newly planted seedlings to work through the soil.

Newspapers are good, but you have to use layers and its best to use different materials between layers, like leaves, grass clippings, compost, etc. Lasagna gardening comes to mind.

To your question of straw, yes it is better than hay, only because straw is typically weedfree.

Good Luck. I hear Oregon is a gardeners paradise. August 1 is a good time to plant for fall most crops. Cabbage (any cole crop), Spinach, carrots, chard, beets, leaf lettuces, bok choi, peas, and a lot more.
~tom

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 4:23PM
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resonanteye(8a/b)

So I can just start adding stuff on top of the garden soil?

Compost and stuff won't do anything to the plants? I read somewhere about plants getting "burned" but that would be if I used chemicals, right?

When I put paper down before the weeds grew long and came up at the edge, I had to pull up all of it to get to their roots. How do I deal with that if I shouldn't disturb soil?

Can I put down something around the edge, how can I get the layers to peter out so that the mower can run right up to them?

I think it must be a gardeners paradise here, almost everything I planted grows really well, things get huge fast and it's nice. It rains so much in the winter though, puddles...our summer is awesome and the fall and spring aren't cold, it rarely snows or freezes here ever, just chilly rain all winter long. Last year I had so much zucchini that I left some of it out to get enormous, then carved it into figures, and used it to decorate the porch hahaha- I didn't realize that zucchni makes so many of them per plant. And I didn't realize that broccoli and cabbage only make one per plant. I thought it was the opposite for some reason.

I will plan to plant in august, then. By any cole crop, does that mean I can plant broccoli? I tried to plpant some in spring but they all made flowers///I have a patch of huge stems with pretty little flowers on them instead of anything edible. If I plant broccoli in august will it grow?

I think I will definitely plant spinach, carrots, lettuce, and peas in august. Should I start them inside first or do I just sow them in the garden?

thanks for the reply, I'm new to all this and have so many questions

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 10:56PM
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tom_n_6bzone(Western Maryland 6b)

"So I can just start adding stuff on top of the garden soil?"

Sure thing. The thicker the mulch made up of layers, the less chance weeds have. I would clear the garden of weeds before I laid the layers and yes, the most persistent of weeds will prevail. They should be few enough though that hand weeding would take care of them.

"Compost and stuff won't do anything to the plants? I read somewhere about plants getting "burned" but that would be if I used chemicals, right?"

Chemical fertilizer is usually what people talk about when they refer to 'burned'. If compost hasn't been composted enough, it could steal nitrogen from your plants.

"When I put paper down before the weeds grew long and came up at the edge, I had to pull up all of it to get to their roots. How do I deal with that if I shouldn't disturb soil?"

If your layers are thick enough, most weeds won't survive. Those that do, disturb them. Pick them, hoe them, remove them.

"Can I put down something around the edge, how can I get the layers to peter out so that the mower can run right up to them?"

Absolutely! I use boards to frame my garden plots. Kinda like square foot gardening. You can use stones or anything to frame it and if it grows in height with lots of layered mulch, you have raised beds which are wonderful.

"If I plant broccoli in august will it grow?"

Yes. :)

"I think I will definitely plant spinach, carrots, lettuce, and peas in august. Should I start them inside first or do I just sow them in the garden?"

Some people will start lettuce inside early srping to get a jump start on the growing season. Since you are sowing for fall, the vegetables you named, you can seed direct to the soil. Seed them in soil, rather than directly to the mulch. Move the mulch aside if you have to. Add some soil if you have to.
There's some wonderful books at the library on gardening. John Jeavons, Patricia Lanza and John Seymour are good starts.

There's also the Oregon Extension website with gardening calendars for your area. They are on the upper left hand part of the page to click. http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/
Have fun!
~tom

Here is a link that might be useful: Oregon State Extension

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 9:07AM
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resonanteye(8a/b)

hey thanks for that information, and for the link!

I think I am going to use boards around the edge, since I have some on hand.

It's good to know not to put the compost out there until it...composts a little. I wasn't sure if I could just toss it in the garden or if I had to pile it and wait...

I can't wait for broccoli!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 3:53PM
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