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Re: late into the garden

  • Subject: Re: [cg] late into the garden
  • From: Harmon Seaver <hseaver@cybershamanix.com>
  • Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2002 14:33:32 -0500
  • Content-disposition: inline

On Mon, Jun 03, 2002 at 02:56:42PM -0500, Dr. H. Michael Simmons wrote:
> Harmon,
>      I can sympathize with your impatience to get into the garden, but
> there may be something to your garden administrator's reluctance to plow
> or allow tilling of any kind if the soil is too wet.  You mentioned heavy
> clay soil.  If tilled or spaded when wet, the soil structure suffers and
> will not recover acceptable tilth until it has gone through a number of
> freeze-thaw cycles.  In addition, walking or driving a tractor on wet clay
> will compact the
> soil.

    Oh, yes, of course, I understand that -- but we don't want them to plow at
all. Plowing is the worst thing that can be done to the soil, regardless of when
it's done. What plowing does is turn over the more fertile top soil that we've
worked so hard to make and bury it, giving us fresh clay to work
with. Furthermore, the only real way to deal with heavy clay soils, at least
here in the cold North, is to build raised beds. It's a lot of work, only to be
ruined every year by their totally needless plowing.
     If they were even looking at what people do, they'd have to see that
there's no need -- most (at least 95%) are Hmongs, they all come with their
heavy hoes and totally till their plot, then hoe it up into raised beds. Others
come with rototillers, so the ground gets thoroughly worked up, the weeds are
kept down, what's the point of plowing?
     What we've been trying to get them to do is to allow gardeners to keep the
same plot from year to year, which this year they finally allowed (after only
about 10 years of trying), and to stop using chemical fertilizer, which they
finally did, along with banning the use of herbicides and insecticides. So,
we're making progress, but slowly. 

Harmon Seaver	

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