As part of our decision to use the no till method on the farm, we purchased a broadfork to help turn the soil without tearing up the soil micro bacteria with a rototiller. The extremely sharp blades are 12 inches long and you can buy them up to 16 inches long. Using your body weight you step down on the broadfork and pry up the soil. The bed in the picture is the oldest bed used and as you can see it’s terrible clay soil. This tool works.
The next step will be for us to add more organic material and blend it in. We covered the bed over the winter with straw but it was a very dry winter and the idea is to keep the moisture in the bed. These old beds are going to need a lot of amending with compost and we may add sand.
Working on the soil is a lot of trial and error and requires a lot of patience. Fortunately each year is better than the previous year so we are moving in the right direction.
The final garden learning in the vegetable plot last year was on row placement. While you are watching the sun to decide how you want to lay out your garden rows, take a look at how water flows in your garden. A big mistake I made was putting my rows against the grain of the water flow. Every storm that came through tore out sections of rows and the seeds or plants in them. In some cases the entire row disappeared.This coming year I will change row directions so the water flows between them. Another water flow issue was finding that the bed wasn’t level. Top soil was washing down the hill every rain storm. The soil turned to hard clay by the end of the summer. I’ll need to retain the lower section as much as possible to keep this from occurring next year. There are rocks, bricks, stepping stones, lumber and miscellaneous blocks all over the property so no better time to practice recycling and reusing!