Gardening The No-Till Way

By George Graine, Fairfax Master Gardener


Till no more, ye gardeners!

Have you heard about double-digging your soil to have the perfect garden? That means digging out about 10 inches of soil, moving the soil at the bottom to the top, and vice versa. It is a lot of hard work unless you are going to rent a Bobcat. Is there another way to plant a vegetable garden without shoveling? You bet, but first an explanation of why traditional ways to start a garden are passé. No-till gardening could be your passport to an abundance of veggies without the strain of shoveling or the noise and pollution of a rototiller. Do I hear someone say, “You have to be kidding?” Let me explain.

Traditionally, tilling the soil involved a man pushing some heavy implement to turn over the soil. Later, the poor guy was assisted by mules, horses or oxen. This was all in the service of the commonly held notion that plant roots had an ability to “eat” small pieces of soil and that tilling the soil released nutrients that aided plant growth.
Actually, tilling before planting does encourage see