Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tilling the land

The neighbor has decided to lease portions of his land for people to garden on, and I've been tilling the land to prep it for a garden. It's been interesting. The soil itself is a clay base, with the top 4" or so pretty good organic material. Mostly sod.
But it's never been tilled, and under the 4" it's pretty darned hard. Hard enough that it was tearing my little tiller apart trying to cut it up.

So after a hundred yards or so of no success with the tiller, I got my 3-bottom plow and plowed the land up. Two reasons for this: First, it'll break up the dirt into something the tiller can easily digest, and second, the plow will hunt for stuff that I don't want the tiller to hit. Like big timbers, car leaf springs, axles, and so on. The plow is designed to rotate when it hits something hard, so it's pretty safe to cruise around with it and let it find the big items. When it does hit something you get out, reset the blade(s) that are tripped, and then off on your merry way.

The picture above shows what it looks like after I plowed, and on the right and top you can see what it looks like after a pass with the tiller. The tiller is just a big tractor-mounted rototiller.
So after plowing there's big hunks of sod, after tilling there's a pretty fine, chopped up soil. The water shows between the sod because the clay underneath is effectively waterproof. Near as I can tell the water drains horizontally off this field. If I were going to farm it next year, I'd probably use a subsoiler to plow 3-4' deep to provide better drainage.
Here's the view from my tractor cab while I'm tilling. You can see the furrows from plowing ahead and to the left, the finished seed bed to the Right. This sure is pretty soil.
Some of the people wanted to till it themselves, some wanted it tilled. I think that the smarter ones are the ones who wanted it tilled and lime added. The soil is pretty acidic, and lime moderates that acidity. I'll be interested in seeing if the folks who didn't want their plots tilled, like the folks on the right here, with the water troughs, actually do dig their plots up by hand. I charged a nominal fee for this work, basically fuel and time at $20/hour. To dig up one of these plots by hand would take most of a work week. Thick sod and heavy clay.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, liming has changed my back yard so that the goats who five years ago would not eat the grass or weeds at all are now keeping it grazed pretty close. Where do you get your lime? Lowes carries 40 lb bags for around 5 or 6 bucks. However I'd like to get a few ton and am hoping I can get it a little cheaper.
Oh, by the way, I sent you an email about some bee hives the other day, and haven't heard back from you. I can get them free (I think they are in real good condition) and was wondering if you might be interested in some. . . .
425 742 7277
425 772 0430 cell