Till vs No-Till Gardening


I saw a recent article by Organic Gardening talking about preparing your soil for planting in the spring.  The article titled, “Preparing Your Soil in Spring,”talks about working your soil to get it ready. They don’t use the word till, but do talk about working it, which is pretty much the same.



On the same Organic Gardening site they have an article on the benefits of no-till gardening.  There conclusion is that no-till is both good for the gardener, the soil and the planet.


So what should a home gardener do?

While I’ve been a conventional gardener in the past, because I’ve had mostly perennial beds I have ended up basically in the no-till camp. I’m going to go even farther this year and use no fertilizer, but instead use compost and cover crops to improve my soils. Most of my research comes from the USDA-NRCS and their videos on YouTube which show the advantages of this method for conventional farms, but which should also apply to home gardeners.


Filed under soil

3 responses to “Till vs No-Till Gardening

  1. Dana

    My husband and I are in our second year of “no-till” in our organic vegetable garden. When we built our garden 3 years ago, we tilled deeply to remove the rocks. Then we tilled in a lot of organic matter–compost, dry molasses–and mulched with shredded hardwood from our land. The first 2 years we tilled before planting and the texture of the soil was pretty good. Last year we did not till. We just used a turning fork to loosen the soil only in the spot where we put each plant. As we forked each planting spot, we worked in worm castings, alfalfa meal, and organic fertilizer. This spring as we are planting, we are finding that even though we haven’t tilled in 2 years, the soil texture in the entire garden is very loose and fluffy. So we are sold on no-till.

    This is how I understand the no-till/organic approach. The organic matter that is added to the soil creates and stimulates the growth of beneficial microbes, fungi, bacteria, etc. These organisms form a network throughout the soil as they do their work of breaking down the organic matter and making the nutrients available to the plants. When the soil is tilled, it breaks up that beneficial process so the “networking” process has to start all over again. My source for this information is dirtdoctor.com

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