Why the need for no-till gardening?
Promotes natural aeration and drainage, saves water by reducing evaporation, reduces need to weed which saves time and energy, it also helps build the earthworm population and most importantly reduces soil erosion.
How to Get Started
Start with a good layout. Plan the size of bed areas that you can comfortably reach into from an isle way. Lay these out so that you can minimize foot traffic in the bed area. Maintain permanent isle ways for repeated foot traffic. One example layout is 4 feet wide beds approximately 30 feet long with 18-inch-wide isle ways between each bed. This allows you to reach 2 feet of your bed area from either side.
With a good layout, you are now ready to do your first gardening of the season! For a modest size garden this preparation may take one to two hours. If this is a new location, you can do this right on top of the grass. If you can get some manure or compost form a local farm, lay down a healthy layer in the bed area (if you don’t have access to manure, don’t worry, you can still build soil). Next, place a minimum of 12 inches of mulch over the bed areas. Add a slightly thinner layer of mulch to the isle ways which will be the start of a weed barrier next spring. Next, go inside and hibernate for the winter, you’re done! The mulch will maintain higher soil temperatures for biological activity through the winter. You may be surprised at soil conditions for planting come spring time!
What to Use for Mulch
Many common materials can be used for mulches including; hay, grass clippings, newspaper, leaves, compost, straw, seaweed (good luck finding that around Bradford County) or other organic materials.
Planting in the Spring
Pull back the mulch and dig into the surface just enough to set the plant. The depth of the mulch can only be a few inches thick when seedlings are first planted, then added in layers as plants grow. Pull mulch away from the stems of tomatoes, peppers and long stemmed plants.