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Re: to plow or not to plow

Pat Elazar wrote:
> Hi Pat!
> It sounds like you've already done alot of really great work there clearing
> rubble down to a depth of 18"! Congratulations on your accomplishments!
> Given your original starting point (rubble-filled former building site), I
> probably would have recommended framing raised beds & trucking in an ideal loam
> mix topped up from time to time with some good compost when you could get it!
> Plowing is used in commercial agriculture to break up sod & old pasture land;
> turning under crop residues where crops like corn & cotton are grown
> continuously & disease/pest pressures would otherwise be intolerable; and for
> mixing large amounts of soil ammendments into the soil profile on an industrial
> scale.
> Plowing has some advantages:  After plowing a field, it is usually easy to
> prepare a good seed bed by harrowing or disking a couple of times. Plowing can
> often bury weed seeds below the zone at which they can effectively germinate.
> If done properly & at the correct speed, plowing can thoroughly mix in soil
> ammendments on an industrial scale. Done properly on a 1-time-only basis to
> break up sod or mix in soil ammendment, plowing should not have much negative
> impact on soil structure.
> The dis-advantages are considerable: Populations of micro-organisms are buried
> at worst or at best, relocated in soil strata less than ideal for their temp &
> oxygen requirements; Organic matter may be buried below the zone where it can
> provide its benefits; If improperly done- ie at wrong speed or moisture level-
> plowing can harm soil structure. Most of the advantages of plowing can be
> captured by hand digging or machine digging (depending on the scale of
> operation); removing weeds & crop residues for composting
> I hope I've given you some background so that you can make a better decision.
> http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/leaflets/planningrs.html
> http://www.attra.org/cgi-bin/htsearch?words=plowing&page=3
> http://www.attra.org/cgi-bin/htsearch?words=plowing&page=2
> http://www.attra.org/cgi-bin/htsearch?words=plowing&page=1
> Patricia Lawson <cityguys@discoverynet.com> on 08/03/2000 07:33:14 AM
> Please respond to cityguys@discoverynet.com
>  To:      community_garden@mallorn.com
>  cc:
>  Subject: [cg] to plow or not
> To Whom It May Concern--
> I am not currently a member of the American Community Garden Association
> but plan to become one.  We have a small community garden in the inner
> city of Kansas City, Kansas.  It is located on a lot, which was formerly
> the site of a house.  The soil was very poor and rubble-filled when we
> began.  We cleared as much as we could--to perhaps a depth of 12-18
> inches--and tilled in several loads of compost.  My question is what
> would be the best way to improve the soil with a bit of grant money we
> have.  Should we continue to add compost to the top and till it in or
> would it be better to hire someone to plow it and plow in compost at a
> deeper level.  I'm not sure how feasible this would be or if a deeper
> plowing would even be that good.  But I've read that tilling can harm
> the soil.  (We try not to overdo it).  Please let me know your thoughts
> on this.  We're thinking of plowing this fall.  Thanks, Pat Lawson,
> Kansas City, Kansas
> _______________________________________________
> community_garden maillist  -  community_garden@mallorn.com
> https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden

Pat, thank you for your discussion of the pros and cons of plowing.  I
will certainly investigate further before we make a decision.  We have
done roto-tilling with a fairly good-sized tiller, but below that area
(probably closer to 12 inches down than 18) is clay.  Thanks again.  
Pat L.

community_garden maillist  -  community_garden@mallorn.com

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