No Till Gardening: Homesteading Basics (VIDEO)

Should You Till Your Garden?

In this episode of our ongoing video series Homesteading Basics, Marjory goes into some detail on the basics of no till gardening. Cultivating the earth, working the land, putting your hand to the plow … it’s a time-honored tradition, alright. But is it always the best thing to do?

If you’re a no-till evangelist, please don’t freak out when you see Marjory standing in front of this big John Deere tractor. Give her a chance to explain, because, as she puts it, “I’m a pretty low-tech wheelbarrow and shovels type of gal.”

The One Straw Revolution Viewpoint

If you’ve never read The One Straw Revolution, you might consider checking that out. Masanobu Fukuoka was a Japanese gentleman who passed away back in 2008. He studied plant pathology at university, and then worked for the Japanese customs office as a produce inspector for several years.

While he was studying and practicing in state-of-the-art facilities, he was also developing an understanding that nature is a force so large and powerful that all of man’s efforts to control and subdue her are futile. He decided to prove his theories by taking over his father’s citrus farm in the countryside.

What happened next is very telling. When he initially discontinued the pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that had been used on the farm … well, it fizzled. The trees grew crowded, they fruited little, and then they died. They had been dependent on synthetic inputs—and when Fukuoka cut those synthetic inputs off, the weak plants couldn’t survive.

He took steps to begin healing the soil and started another orchard from scratch. In his fields, he had found that if he rotated his crops with care, he could use each season’s chaff to mulch and fertilize the field for the next season. He used excess mulch from his fields and nitrogen-fixing weeds like white clover, and his new orchard thrived without synthetic inputs. Fukuoka believed that never tilling the soil was a key factor in his success.

Read More: Microbes 2.0 – A Tiny Manifesto

No Till Gardening

Since The One Straw Revolution was published in 1978, we’ve gained a lot of knowledge about why tilling the soil is sometimes a very bad idea. The microscopic life in the soil is concentrated in the top few inches of soil. When we till, we destroy the sensitive soil microbiome in those top few inches.

Elaine Ingham provides a great guide to understanding the complexity of soil life in her Soil Biology Primer. I also really enjoyed Jeff Lowenfels’ Teaming With Microbes. As Marjory mentioned, John Jeavons’ Grow Biointensive® method is one popular vegetable gardening philosophy that has really embraced the importance of a strong soil microbiome.

Modern gardeners have taken the hint pretty well. While seasonal tilling is still commonplace in industrial growing operations, more and more gardeners are leaving the tiller in the shed each spring, and relying on natural tools like microbes, worms, and roots to keep their soil from compacting.

As Marjory mentions, sometimes you really can’t get around tilling if you want to grow vegetables in raw ground that has never been worked. But after your garden has been established, there’s really no need for tilling in a backyard setting. Give no till gardening a try and your soil microbiome will thank you!

(This article was originally published on July 13, 2016. We had a couple of questions on no-till gardening in heavy clay soils during last week’s Ask Me Anything! podcast, so we thought it was a good time to bring this oldie but goodie out of the archives!) 

 

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This post was written by Michael Ford

203 Comments

  • Trina Anderson says:

    We have been completely no till for some time. We found a man who recycles old conveyor belts. We put those where we need to kill weeds/ sod and they are heavenly. He filled up our entire SUV for $100. We also use them in our fences, putting the fence posts right through the middle fo the belts… no weeds in our fences. Our garden is soil is so much richer and moister since we stopped tilling. There are more worms, birds, and a much greater yield. We weed right after large rain storms only and have had no troubles. Our garden probably has 20 weeds in it this year. We use all of the fall leaves in our garden. We direct compost all of our kitchen scraps through the winter into the soil. (Sometimes we just throw it right on the snow). We also put up a lawn sign saying we will take people’s lawn scraps and a man drops off tons of grass clippings for us. It’s going very well.

    1. Mike says:

      Free grass clippings can be a very good thing. However, you might want to be aware of where the grass clippings came from before they got to you, and if they have been treated with anything that could affect your new plants down the road.

      It’s become a crazy kind of world, where we have to watch out for poisons of one sort or another in nearly everything that grows from the ground. And we have the lovely folks at Monsanto and their government arm, the FDA, to thank for this.

      1. Ray Brown says:

        Good point Mike! The last thing I would want in my garden soil would be clippings from some neighbor that sprays pesticides and weed-killers on his lawn.

    2. Jeanne says:

      very interesting about weed control with conveyor belts. What part of the country do you live?

    3. Chris A. A. says:

      Conveyor belts, old rubber truck bed liners old fatigue mats from stores and barber shops all will work well for stopping the weeds. No light, no air. None of these is considered biodegradable. I have found that large sheets (pieces) of cardboard works as well as the rubber products. the cardboard can (after the winter of weed control) be composted or fed to you worms. It can also be left on the ground and holes cut into it for you plants to grow through, and still keep the weeds from growing.
      I have found it easy to acquire cardboard from the local appliance stores, grocery stores and even some of the discount houses (Wal-Mart, Target, ect. ect.) just for the asking. One other issue. Trees give us the cardboard. tress and vegetation other also give us the petroleum. The difference, 20 or 30 MILLION years

  • Sheri Cline says:

    Years ago when I first dug-in to my gardening project I had to tackle a huge weed problem. Every weed you could think of- I had, including blackberry, and I love blackberry, just not where it was coming up. I used 2 chemical treatments the first year and it shames me that I did this. I did not use Round-up but a different product that is used in Agriculture and it’s banned from use in the east side of our state of Washington. With time and tons of reading I turned to different methods, all natural and organic, wood char, ash, wood chips, growing herbs, sheet & deep mulching. There are areas that I’m still building-up the soil with mulch and other composted organic matter and I do work this into my soil by double digging. Each year I go deeper and deeper into that clay & hard pan and I have harvested so many rocks that make me think I”m more of a rock farmer than a gardener. My soil has gotten better at holding rain water instead of forming huge flooded pools, I had to be careful when walking that I didn’t sink! What I have found important is to keep my composting worms happy and this requires me to keep compost bins every where. My orchard area has many bins to feed the trees and I constantly rotate compost bins into my garden growing rows to keep the worms active and making worm casting deposits. Berries (Blackberry, Marionberry, Raspberry & Strawberry)in raised beds and ground level, are composted with it’s own prunings in the fall and topped in spring with finished mulch. I use diatomaceous earth in the early spring to help with seed planted crops to control slugs, but after that I have used nothing. Aphids hit my trees, kale and garlic. I have watch bees carve out chunks of apple tree and rose leaves for their building projects. I’ve watch birds go after and unfurl leaves of fruit trees to get to invasive worms. I was so surprised to see this! I pray to God every day for His protection and I try to trust in His plan. I keep repeating “If you don’t have the “bad guys” the “Good guys” won’t have any desire to come”.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Can anyone suggest a place (a city) where the weather is mild and perhaps there is already a community of people that grow their own food.
    I grew up in the city and never saw a farm but I want to change my life and go to the country but don’t know where to start and dont’ want to be lost in the bunnies. I’d like to find a community, neighbors with perhaps country houses or large lots (I don’t think that without any training I can manage a farm). Does anyone know anything about some kind of community like I described? Oregon? Possibly? Books or real state brokers that deal with those kinds of properties?

    Thank you for your time and courtesy reading my email,
    Elizabeth

    1. suzie queue says:

      Go for a drive through the country and look for small towns. You get the best of both worlds.

    2. John Wages says:

      Connect with the permaculture community in the pages of Permaculture Design magazine (www.PermacultureDesignMagazine.com). The US also has a new permaculture publication: Permaculture North America, sister to Permaculture UK. And, there is PIP in Australia. In PcD, we have listings of permaculture institutes and workshops, and we have a free online directory. There are thriving communities in northern California, OR, WA, CO, and ME, as well as various places in the Midwest and Southeast…all over the country really.
      Going to local sustainable farm conferences is another way to network, as might be the Mother Earth News fairs (check their website for 2017 schedule). Good luck.
      John Wages
      Publisher, Permaculture Design magazine

    3. Christine says:

      Many CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are looking for volunteers, and many communities have community garden plots. The garden plots are rarely advertised, so you have to go looking for them. I lived in my town for ten years before I found out about my towns community garden space, and only because I looked for it. You might find a mentor right next door.

    4. Kasey says:

      Check out http://www.ic.org …it’s a worldwide directory of intentional communities and shows communities that are in every stage of development (from just forming to well-established for decades). Many communities are arranged how you describe- with families having their own plots of land, but a central community building for regular gatherings. What’s nice is that there ends up being a lot of information exchange, so it’s really perfect for novices to join a community to learn best practices for caring for the land, etc in their particular region. You can also do short stays at many of them (as an farm intern, for instance) to try it out and see if it’s for you. Good luck!

    5. Michelle says:

      Start by taking Stacey Murphy’s Grow Your Own Vegetables, online classes, she will be starting up again in late February I believe, I just took her classes and they are wonderful. I started small growing in my yard and composting and adding leaves for he trees give back for that purpose at the end of the season and have been quite successful. Don’t worry we all have ups and downs, just don’t put anything on our soil if you don’t know where it came from or what’s in it. I’m in Pennsylvania, and am attempting to by land by the Amish. They are good neighbors that have live this way for generations. That may be one option of you. They also do wonderful work restoring homes. Good luck, and pray!

    6. Emily says:

      Idaho land prices are low, and there’s tons of very small towns there. Soil tend to be heavy, with clay and rocks, though, in central Idaho in the mountains.
      Decide whether you’re looking for a rural atmosphere town or a gentrified place like Austin TX is now.

    7. Bud Van Den Berg says:

      Delta county Colorado has all the ingredients you are looking for!

      1. Janae says:

        I kind of hit a small roadblock this week, while trying something new, but I will get onboard for next week. A three-day weekend helps! I love the cookbook and ca8&1n2#7;t wait to get fully into it! Debra

    8. mel stevenson says:

      You should come to Costa Rica. we are doing exactly that. We can grow year around with an ocean view. Drop me an email at samara.beach @gmail.com

    9. I live in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where we have lots of large scale farmers and rural and urban backyard gardeners. Most of us on the West coast are blessed with pretty mild weather. Although those of us in Oregon and Washington are also pretty soggy as well. But you can’t have everything.
      I also recently completed the Master Gardener program in my county. I suggest you contact the extension office in the county where you live or where you are moving to and enroll in the Master Gardener program if you really want information and a network of knowledgeable colleagues and friends to learn from. It required a lot of time and effort on my part but I learned and continue to learn so much and met such great people. If you do move it would be a fabulous way to get acquainted with people in your community who share your interests and also if you don’t move…same story! Not every state has Master Gardener programs but there are many that do. To find out just google the title Master Gardener and your county and state or your states extension office and you should be able to find the info you need. Good luck and God bless you on your journey.

    10. Charles Andrews says:

      Check out a planned community called Sovereign Oaks in Asheville , NC

    11. john Scarborough says:

      Check out out local permaculture facebook page for Jacksonville Fl
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/376132752470842/
      We are zone 9 but with high humidity at times.
      My 1/2 acre urban yard 40+ fruit trees that produce tree ripe fruit every month of the year.

  • Ladislav says:

    I would not use Roundup, not even at the beginning. If you have too many, or persisting weeds, lay black plastic on the ground in the summer and leave for as long as it takes to kill the weeds. Summer is the best, because the black plastic not only deprives the weeds of light, it also cooks them. cheers

    1. peter lehnert says:

      hello ladislav, it is my personal experience that black plastic does stop the weeds, but it also makes the soil far to hot, and rainwater has a hard time getting through, the worms cannot live in such hot soil and the soil becomes compacted, and also cleanup of the plastic is needed if a person does not want to have to deal with plastic residue in the garden for a lot of years. i am convinced that plastic breakdown products are NOT good for any environment, and they are certainly not good for accidental human consumption. the best way i know of to get rid of the worst weeds is turning the soil, preferably with a shovel, since this method does not kill nearly as many worms as rototilling, also this method allows you to become more intimately acquainted with your soil. (for example, it was by using this method that i discovered the evidence of prehistoric forest fires where i live, and also helped me find the location where the snakes lay their eggs. i still maintain a small stone pile at that location just for the snakes, and they return every year for the last 29 years.) never, never, never, use roundup. my brother used it only once, and he told me that he never felt healthy again. he died of non-hodgkins lymphoma. the weeds came roaring back. he never gardened again. the best weed control i know of for yearly use is paper grocery bags, cut open one corner and around 3 sides of the bottom, open it up and it will cover about 5 square feet, put a layer down between the rows and cover with composted wood chips(about 2-3 years, to help breakdown of cellulose and any residual toxins, soak the compost pile with water to speed mycorhizial growth, if needed. rain may be good enough, depending on where you live). worms will move in under the paper bags, aerate the soil and leave castings, water gets through, and the soil remains cool. crab grass does not grow nearly as well since where i live it needs warm, relatively compacted soil. the paper grocery bags are free from the local recycle place. it get wood chips from the local recycle bin, free for the hauling, dumped there by the local electric company, who get them from trees that are impinging onto the overhead electric wires. they have never been sprayed with anything, but still beware, and compost them, as described above. the paper bags will last about 3 months where i live, the wood chips last about 2 years. tilling is only needed in the rows at the start of the growing season. shift the rows every 2 years, and start over. i realize that my method may not work for everyone, and the resources may not be available like they are for me. good luck to everyone, pete

    2. Paul G says:

      I use large silver/black tarps (black side up) or the heavy duty blue ones. These do the same thing as the black plastic – blocking light and cooking roots and (somewhat) surface seeds. And they can be folded up and stored away for the next area I need to work on. Initially more expensive than plastic, their re-usability and longevity make them more cost effective in the long run for my purpose. Being in Maine, where solar energy to heat things up is somewhat limited, I usually let the process go the entire summer – just to be sure all the undesired vegetation is really gone.
      Once I have an area killed off of the weeds/grass, I plant an annual cover crop – green manure with nitrogen fixing to start re-aerating and replenishing the soil. Maine Organic Farmers Association has a nice fact sheet on green manure/cover crops http://www.mofga.org/Portals/2/Fact%20Sheets/FS%2010%20Green%20Manures%20web.pdf
      The next spring the area is ready for planting, complete with built-in mulch from the now dead cover crop and good nitrogen content from the work of the cover crop when it was growing.

      Over time (several years), weeds will re-assert themselves from seed blown in on the wind or from grass (I cut it tall) and hays added as spot mulches, plus rhizomes running in from adjacent lawn/field. When mulching and the occasional pulling no longer easily keeps up with it, I treat the area with the tarps over again. I think of it as “garden management” similar to “pasture management” – keeping things moving into new areas while restoring and replenishing the previously used ones.

  • Peace says:

    Don’t use roundup, ever, it stays in the soil and does lots of long term harm, instead take cardboard and cover all grass you don’t want, then in a month or tow lift the cardboard out not already composted and see the soil, weed free under the cardboard, ready to plant. Roundup is not any good. Also one can use wood chips and get the same results as cardboard, just add some N to the soil and wood chips. As they break down they rob the soil of its N. so a little piss well placed will make up for this robbery, give you a nice fluffy soil with what it needs to grow things well. But no Roundup is needed.

    1. Lisa (in Ava) says:

      Fine idea but it won’t work with Bermuda grass. In my experience use double layers of cardboard and then cover with black plastic and leave for about 4 months in summer or all winter long. then dig out whatever grass remains. Even my ,method might not work for Johnson grass. It is strong enough to just raise the cardboard and plastic and then grow sideways until it finds light! Amazing stuff!

      1. SJ Smith says:

        I agree. Bermuda grass just send runners out and pops up outside the barriers, only to resurface once barriers are gone. It can also have bits tilled down very deep that surface. I’ve found round up puts a dent in ot, then you gotta dig deep and carefully remove every little stolin segment. Like you, i am careful to use it o ly on stolen type grasses as a one time helper. Then weed agressively for a year. Then dig again searching for what you missed. In a few years, it’s is possible to rid the soil of this aggressive choking weed only by aggressively tackling it.

        1. Emily says:

          Bermuda grass runners, if planted in soil, will eventually make a lawn you don’t have to mow! This was in Florida sandy soil.

      2. Carol says:

        I just bought a broad fork on line which I hope will make it easier to dig deeply to get at Bermuda grass. It hasn’t arrived yet, but I will use it while the ground is soft. The Bermuda grass is now coming into my no-til garden from around the edges. By the way, I think the b-grass originally came into our yard from some truck loads of cow manure that came from a local dairy, so beware of the this possibility.

        I love my no-til, sheet mulch garden. Very few if any pests, almost no weeding, creates its own perfect, rich soil. Therefore can build it anywhere.
        There are you tube videos on how to build. I got inspired from Bill Mollison saying how easy it is to build and use. Toby Hemenway has directions in his book Gaia’s Garden. Best success I’ve ever had raising veggies. Can use what you have around – leaves, dry or fresh grass/weeds, composted manure, a little rock dust, straw, sea weed, etc. Layer cardboard on the ground first. Wet all the layers as you go.
        Can plant same day with starts or seeds. Open a “pot” in the pile, put in a couple of handfuls of soil and plant as usual. Water the whole bed overhead, to encourage the material to turn into soil. Any weed from nearby can be put on the garden as more organic feed for micro-organisms. Add more materials now and then to keep it 18″ – 2′ deep.

        1. Carol says:

          Link to a good how-to build no dig garden:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXcC0rVhkF0

  • Please stop promoting roundup. Monsanto is killing our environment, you know this.

  • Sandy says:

    We have rather wet conditions in our garden. We tilled the first year and our silty sand loam stayed gooey a lot longer than the areas that had not been tilled. The roots under the soil kept our feet above water up to a point, as well as the more obvious benefit of transpiring the moisture and adding organic matter. One of the ideas that has been especially useful from Masanobu Fukuoka has been to enjoy the experience of experimenting a little and observing what happens. Unfamiliar weeds have become friends (some of them) and a lot of time is saved respecting the nature and tendencies of the community of plants me and my veggies have moved into. I’m hoping for fabulous, will be happy with a crop that gets us through winter!

  • Wayne. says:

    NO do not use roundup, after planting your orchard just mow around the trees and use the grass in your compost.
    Will be very beneficial for the soil.

  • Bonnie says:

    Round up remains for years. I would never use it. Sure it kills, sure it makes things easy, but it goes against all that is natural. It is chemical, it is poison, it is expensive, and it kills.
    That is my opinion, and I am only one voice.
    I till once in the beginning of a new plot, and that is it. I spend hours weeding, I have mountains of composted weeds, I have wheelbarrows of weeds at a time, weeds and I are at odds every moment of ever day, occasionally I win. But, because I do not use chemicals, I have the most wonderful tasting food that can be produced. My yard is filled with birds, and insects that feel free to nibble at my plants, that pick blossoms off my beans, that eat my salsify seeds. They love what I grow. Oh, there are times I wish they would leave things alone, but since gardening is a gift I treasure, I simply plant again, or become the “early bird”.

    My garden is my go to spot for things that bring joy into my life. It gives me food, friends, music, sweet scents, clarity, serenity, and so much more. I become quiet in its arms, studious in its nature, and soothed by its song. My garden and I are one.

  • Volker says:

    Was the japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka?

  • Deanna says:

    Bonnie, I love your final paragraph. Thanks.
    “My garden is my go to spot for things that bring joy into my life. It gives me food, friends, music, sweet scents, clarity, serenity, and so much more. I become quiet in its arms, studious in its nature, and soothed by its song. My garden and I are one.”

  • Jorge says:

    Hi Marjorie

    How is it possible! Here in Europe we are doing a tremendous fight trying to eradicate the use of the glyphosate and you said that!
    Use roundup only once? OK, next season you have to use that again and more because grass will grow stronger again, and more and more because grasses will be stronger to glyphosate. If you use it, it affects the the freatic water and kill all the fauna and flora and you (slowly) maybe.

    All the best

    1. peter lehnert says:

      hello jorge, pardon my ignorance, what exactly is ‘freatic’ water. it is not in my dictionary. thanks, pete

  • Mary Lynn says:

    Thanks for this article, Marjory. I was immediately drawn to the title because I planted my first no-till veggie garden this spring and it was difficult.

    The plot (40×75), which HAD been tilled in a previous year, was covered with buckwheat, winter peas, crimson clover, vetch with some daikon radish thrown in for good measure. There was also some johnson grass growing (very invasive as you know) that had been in the plot when it was part of a corn strip. We used the mowing deck of the lawn mower (blade turned off) to knock down the plants that had not been downed by the chicken flock but they stood back up in 48 hours. When planting time came we had to dig the rows the best we could in the cover crop using a shovel (often on our hands and knees to pull plants not willing to give way to the shovel).

    Even now, with the cover crop mostly dead and composting, I dread digging the next row to plant more sweet corn. Sigh. We REALLY need an implement to roll and break the stems of the cover crop plants and one to be able to dig the planting row. Push plows just don’t cut it (literally).

    Smiles and thanks to you for bringing great info to backyard gardeners!

    PS – My friends and family think I’m crazy to try to garden this way. “You HAVE to till your garden” they tell me : )

  • Anna says:

    I have put down layers of cardboard/newspaper and double dug, in my small backyard – raised beds, and never dug again, except to take out weeds and plant/harvest. One evening after a rain, I noticed all these sticks about 8 inches long all over any exposed earth. When I took a closer look, I realized that they were some of the lushest earth worms I’d ever seen in such numbers just lying around. 🙂

    After years of trying to get rid of bind weed along the borders of the yard, I learned that it’s considered to be one of the worst weeds in the world. If you’ve never dealt with it you can’t imagine. I finally decided to put on rubber gloves, take a jar of Round-up, and paint each leaf when it was going into flower. That in addition to constant monitoring for seeds sprouting (for up to 50 years) etc. Apparently farmers would have to till it regularly for 7 years to get rid of it, but that isn’t too viable when it’s growing in a hedge.

    In life, I’ve found that there seem to be odd exceptions to some rules.

    1. Dianne says:

      I agree that in the garden bindweed is a formidable foe. Since I can’t get rid of it, I’ve started to use it; turns out in Native medicine bindweed is a potent cancer tumor fighter. I pick the stems and make a tea to drink and get the benefits. Just research bindweed + cancer.

      1. Carolyn Yost says:

        Monarch caterpillars will feed on some forms of bindweed when they can’t get milk weed.

      2. Korrina says:

        I love idea that the most pernicious weed that I know of prevents cancer!
        I would also add that I have seen some one spray bindweed with roundup, then roundup for poison ivy, then they added a 2-4d product to the poison ivy spray…. The bindweed would die off for about 2weeks, then come back from its very extensive roots… I believe that she sprayed 5x that summer, yet still has bindweed!

  • Carol says:

    I’m fairly new to your grow network emails, just a few short months. I have enjoyed finding out new things and ways of doing. But I must admit I was extremely perplexed that you would even consider roundup as ok with all the information out there at what it is doing to the soil, the environment and humans. I would love for you to read this article about how bad this is for our planet and the future of humanity. Please see link …http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/03/22/monsanto-glyphosate.aspx?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=twittermercola_ranart&utm_campaign=20160713_monsanto-glyphosate.

  • Sandi says:

    Wow Marjorie, are you being forced or paid to say that about Round-up? Everything I’ve ever heard from you has been the exact opposite. Not so sure I trust you anymore…sad!!!

    1. Noel says:

      Exactly might thoughts

  • Heather Hemphill says:

    The Glyphosate in Round-up is poisoning our world and the prevalence of its use in our agriculture will be the death of all we hold dear. It is a pertinacious chemical and doesn’t disapate as they have tried to claim. If you really want to know the damage it is doing to EVERYONE then listen to this talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYC6oyBglZI
    God help us all if we can’t get its use banned!

    1. Karah says:

      Yoy&r8230;a#e…mu…hero!!! I cant believe something like this exists on the internet! Its so true, so honest, and more than that you dont sound like an idiot! Finally, someone who knows how to talk about a subject without sounding like a kid who didnt get that bike he wanted for Christmas.

  • Valeri Marsh says:

    I recently found a wonderful way to get rid of the weeds. So many people when they remodel a house simply dump their rolls of used carpeting. We grab it and put it over our weeds It stays for years , feels nice to walk on, and does the trick! Plus, it keeps our landfills less full.

    1. Joyce S. says:

      Valerie: I am so glad for you that carpet worked in your garden. We tried that years ago, like maybe 15 years ago? AND, we still cannot work that soil because the carpet is so heavy you cannot remove it due to layers of soil clining to it! PLUS, our garden weeds and grass grew right threw it, so we never did get rid of the weeds! HELP! In an effort to avoid spraying poisons, we have had to resort to mowing the weeds in that part of the garden for years and having a seriously reduced bed size. It seems like this carpeting the garden thing worked well for you (so glad for you), but it has been a DISASTER FOR US!

      1. Kathy Chiavola says:

        Did you use rubber backed carpet?

  • Maury says:

    Thanks for the “food for thought “. Question: I’ll be starting a new garden in the fall in southern AZ. I really want to do raised beds; but locals say it takes too much water. In my sandy desert ground, what’s your reccomendation? Amendments? Tilling?

    1. Michael Ford says:

      Hi Maury – I think you’re on the right track by listening to the locals (within reason, of course: https://thegrownetwork.com/what-we-learned-about-what-they-say/).

      One time I had a raised bed in full sun that was drying out way too fast. But I had good results in the same spot by sinking the bed down into the ground. I double dug as deep as I could get, just within the footprint of the bed – to enrich the soil with compost etc. When I rebuilt the frame, I only made it 2-3 inches taller than the ground. So, it was a “sorta-raised-bed” and it held moisture much longer than the previous one. My 2 cents…

      1. Nance Shaw says:

        What a wonderful idea!

        1. Johnette says:

          That kind of thnkinig shows you’re on top of your game

  • Lauren says:

    PLEASE. You who teach so many, need to say NO to RoundUp. Please Marjorie, listen to the link below. It’s an excellent and far-reaching conversation about the hazards of Glyphosate, the main ingredient in RoundUp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6j0wIhUr1M

  • Felipe says:

    Not recalling Masanobu Fukuoka and suggesting the use of Roundup in one video? A bit shocking. For all the rest, keep up the good work. Cheers!

  • Jim Thompson says:

    Mesa, AZ
    Thank you, Marjory!
    Here Bermuda grass is the back-breaker. When we went “grass free” and began to garden, we spread clear plastic over about 1/3 of the back yard; by summer’s end, the grass in that section was gone. No Roundup.
    Next year I decided to just dig it out; this required almost 2 years to eliminate about 98%, but stubbornness kept me at it. (I did the plastic on parts I was not actively digging).
    Roundup would have been much faster – 3 applications across 6 weeks would probably do it ( in the summer only).
    If I were to do it again, I’d use the plastic film exclusively. Although plastic is not “green”, it doesn’t leave lingering poisons nor does it have a large adverse impact on beneficial critters beyond the immediately covered area. After either plastic or Roundup, one must restore the soil to health.
    The downsides of using plastic? Cost and time. I’ll spend a little more to save the earth, and the time? If you’re not patient, you might find a more suitable pastime than gardening.
    Just my thoughts.

  • Martin Ellenberg says:

    Dear Michael,

    I have watched the video of Marjorie about Till or no-till.

    I wonder if you guys are getting sponsored by Monsanto, the most damaging company for the Planet and human and animal health. Why? Because Marjorie promotes the use of “Roundup”!?!?!?
    Or are you just naive and uninformed about what Roundup does?

    I just can’t believe it! I thought the Grownetwork was teaching people to grow healthy food. Was I wrong?
    Because if you use Roundup you can skip all the work and effort and buy your produce at Walmart.

    Here are just some things about it:
    “Roundup® is a broad-spectrum herbicide, meaning that it has negative effects on nearly every plant with which it comes in contact. It is used for spot treatment of gardens, lawns, paved areas, and some agricultural crops. Although it is toxic, the active chemical, glyphosate, binds with soil.”
    That means it stays in your garden/farm and effects everything you will ever grow!!!!!
    Here is a link:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/150422-glyphosate-roundup-herbicide-weeds/

    And here is a link to show how damaging glyphosate is to human health:
    https://gmoanswers.com/ask/i%E2%80%99ve-read-glyphosate-was-first-patented-chelator-1964-stauffer-chemical-co-it-was-patented
    here a quote from that link to give you an idea how it damages animals and humans who get it in their food:

    “I’ve read Glyphosate was first patented as a chelator in 1964 by Stauffer Chemical Co. It was patented by Monsanto and introduced as an herbicide in 1974. According to Dr. Huber, an award-winning scientist and professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University for the past 35 years, “It’s important to realize that glyphosate is not ‘just’ an herbicide. It was first patented as a *mineral chelator*. It immobilizes nutrients, so they’re not physiologically available for your body.” He says Glyphosate is also patented as an antibiotic: “When you take the good bacteria out, then the bad bacteria fill that void, because there aren’t any voids in nature. We have all of these gut-related problems, whether it’s autism, leaky gut, C. difficile diarrhea, gluten intolerance, or any of the other problems. All of these diseases are an expression of disruption of that intestinal microflora that keeps you healthy.” So my question is, how can you in good conscience, promote Glyphosate which has been patented as both a mineral chelator and an antibiotic…both of which have enormous implications?”

    I hope that Marjory has the guts to correct this and warns her followers from the dangers of Roundup!

    The Internet is full of data about it!

    Martin

    1. Michael Ford says:

      Hi Martin – I can assure you that we’re not sponsored by Monsanto in any way. Looks like you’ve got some good info there – thanks for sharing it with the community!

  • CaptTurbo says:

    I’m a no till gardener for the last ten years or so. Before that I would till in a bunch of compost each season. I can’t really say either has been better over the other. I do wonder if deep tilling could be beneficial down here in SW Florida with the huge root-knot nematode problem we have here? Any thoughts?

    1. Michael Ford says:

      Clemson says yes – https://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/pests/pdf/hgic2216.pdf. Keep in mind, you’ll be killing off more than just the nematodes, so you might take some extra measures to boost the soil life after you get done tilling.

    2. Emily says:

      Clorox kills nematodes in Florida. They do not come back.

    3. Congrats on the weight loss! I’m am also trying to lose weight. I have been watching what I eat. I also play Wii fit and a game called We Cheer. I hate exercising, but the Wii makes it fun!

      1. Healthy Eating: For wellness and weight loss

        “The rapid rise in consumption of ultra-processed food and drink products is the cause for the rapid rise in obesity and related diseases in the world.” Chemical poisons* are a major cause of obesity and other health problems.

        1. theatlantic.com/food/archive/2010/11/how-ultra-processed-foods-are-killing-us/65614.
        2. heecologist.org/News/news_analysis/1191048/programmed_to_be_fat_everyday_chemicals_linked_to_obesity_and_diabetes.html
        3. theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/1191047/the_mother_who_exposed_the_links_between_obesity_and_common_chemicals.html
        4. myscienceacademy.org/2012/08/19/world-renown-heart-surgeon-speaks-out-on-what-really-causes-heart-disease
        5. geneticroulettemovie.com/ The dangers of GM food.
        6. fitbie.msn.com/slideshow/20-superfoods-weight-loss
        7. Good Calories/Bad Calories – What Really Makes Us Fat, Mother Earth News, Oct-Nov 2008
        8. Book: The Big Fast Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet
        9. EAT BUTTER: Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong. Time, June 23. 2014
        10. http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2014/09/18/artificial-sweeteners-increase-risk- diabetes/F3lgKZR0cA9ntkSPv70qfO/story.html
        11. wsj.com/articles/nina-teicholz-the-last-anti-fat-crusaders-1414536989
        12. youtube.com/watch?v=yiU3Ndi6itk [GMOs]
        13. Weight loss is 80% diet; 20% exercise [NBC Today show]
        14. “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” Teicholz
        EAT: [read labels] Organic, if possible.
        1. Beans
        2. Bread: whole grain
        3. Cereals: whole grain
        4. Chocolate: natural dark
        5. Coffee: light roast. Others burned.
        6. Dairy: whole milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, full-cream powdered milk, ice cream /natural.
        7. Eggs
        8. Fat: lard, butter, meat
        9. Fruit: fresh, frozen, canned, dried
        10. Grains: whole
        11. Jelly – whole fruit
        12. Juice – fruit
        13. Meat [pasture- raised]
        14. Nuts
        15. Oil: olive [unrefined, cold pressed], canola
        16. Pasta: whole grain
        17. Sweeteners: stevia, sugar cane [demerara, white, brown]
        18. Syrup: pure maple, honey, fruit
        19. Sesame seed: brown, organic, unhulled. Anti-constipation.
        20. Tea
        21. Tortillas: whole grain
        22. Vegetables: fresh, frozen, dried, canned
        OCCASIONALY EAT: [read labels]
        1. Chips
        2. Fast food
        3. Fried foods [only at home]
        4. Snack foods
        5. Soft drinks
        NEVER EAT: [read labels]
        1. Alcohol [most dangerous drug]*
        2. Aluminium in any form
        3. Aspartame [Nutrasweet, Equal] youtube.com/watch?v=M7vV0XpK3Pw&feature=youtube
        4. BHT, BHA, TBHQ
        5. Blueberries in cereals, muffins, bagels: Fakes except organics.
        6. Brominated vegetable oil [BVO]*
        7. Cellulose [wood pulp!]: microcrystalline [MCC], c. gel, c. gum, c. powder, carboxymethyl cellulose.
        8. Cereals – factory produced
        9. Coloring, artificial*
        10. Corn syrup
        11. Diet drinks* [30% increase in heart attacks]
        12. Energy drinks [high in caffeine]
        13. Factory food
        14. Flavorings, artificial*
        15. Flour – bleached
        16. Food dyes*
        17. Food from China* [rare exceptions]
        18. Fructose
        19. Frozen dinners [most but not all]
        20. Fruit drinks
        21. Genetically modified [GMOs]*: Hawaii pineapples, Aspartame, AminoSweet, MSG, corn, corn sugar, soybeans, sugar beets, rice, tomatoes, etc. All processed foods have them.
        22. HF corn syrup*
        23. Hydrogenated oils/ shortening, etc.
        24. Margarine
        25. Marijuana* [9th most dangerous drug]
        26. MSG* [names: natural, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, malt flavoring, textured protein, etc]
        27. Nicotine* [3rd most dangerous drug]
        28. Nitrates/nitrites* [newstarget.com/007024.html]
        29. Oils: cottonseed, palm, corn, peanut, soybean
        30. Packaged mixes
        31. Shortening
        32. Sweeteners*: Aspartame, AminoSweet, Equal, NutraSweet, Saccharin, Sweet’n Low, Sucralose, Splenda, Sorbitol, Neotame, corn sugar, etc. Some do not have to be listed as ingredients.
        33. Vegetable drinks
        1. sevendaysvt.com/vermont/vermont-hospitals-prescribe-farm-fresh-food/Content?oid=2405335
        2. motherearthnews.com/sustainable-farming/nutrient-value-of-food-zm0z11zphe.aspx
        3. youtube.com/watch?v=FSeSTq-N4U4&feature=player_embedded
        4. odemagazine.com/doc/64/fat-is-where-its-at/all,
        5. Book: Eat Fat; Lose Fat
        6. naturalgrocers.com – organic, no artificial fertilizers, insecticides, etc.

        Ken Hargesheimer, minifarms@gmail.com

  • Dear Marjory,

    I am going to help you to understand why it is not okay to use round up even one time. Please watch this video featuring Stephanie Seneff as soon as you can.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snNRfAfSeUk

    I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say you apparently have not done your research or you never would have said it is okay to use glyphosate…even just once. To me that is like saying it is okay to cheat on your partner, just this once. Then I won’t do it anymore. The attitude is totally wrong. Marriage can be compared to gardens. In a marriage for it to be a happy one, both partners must be in enthusiastic agreement with what the other is doing. You don’t seem to be in enthusiastic agreement about using round up so that’s a good thing. The video below will help you make a stand.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snNRfAfSeUk

    I am positive that once this message is understood a person of your caliber and influence will not only recant what you said in the above video but do a follow up video promoting to the hilt Stephanie’s message about glyphosate pretending to be glycine and confusing the body. It messes with our DNA causing a rise in many, many diseases, some never even heard of before glyphosate came on the scene. In a way it is a good thing I saw your video above because now people have a chance to see the devastating truth about glyphosate and you and possibly others will never sit on the fence again concerning it.

    As for weeds, I am not afraid of them. They are very easy to deal with by smothering. Even grass. What I am learning is to not use too much mulch at a time because I want it to decompose completely by next year.

    I like to use 4 X 4 frames four inches high or eight inches high as in square foot gardening. I’ve done it different ways. If you don’t need the spot until next year lay down cardboard and put mulch on top. I use goat bedding. It gives me a place to put it and builds my earth worm population.

    Today I did remove the weeds with my broadfork. Then I filled up the frame with fresh grass clippings. I pushed the grass aside making sixteen holes one foot apart all the way down to bare dirt, which I fill with “Mel’s Mix”. I plant my starts in that mix and bring the grass close to my plants covering all soil. So I pre-mulch with grass clippings. Done for the season. No weeding, no watering necessary.

    Last year, my first year here on my new farm, I eventually didn’t even weed at all before planting. I had been weeding the row before I planted then layed down mulch between the rows to smother those weeds between the row. I didn’t use any frames. I planted in rows but was running out of time since I had so much more to plant. This is how I did it. First I mowed the area as low as the mower would go. Then, I dug my planting holes a bigger diameter than what the plant needed so I only weeded where I was putting the plant. Then mulched heavily right up to the plant and of course, between the rows. This doesn’t work for carrots. LOL.

    Marilyn Kefirlady

    1. Jenny says:

      et les crepes etait tres bonne, merci Jean Marc.Bon courage pour le retour, a l&;#a178im2ge des voyages, il faut souvent etre plus fort pour rentrer que pour partir.des pensées de courage donc, et que la glace soit bonnejonas, el calafate, 22/05/2012

  • frederico says:

    What happened to you?!?!?!?!?!!?!

  • Martin Ellenberg says:

    Hi Michael,

    I apologize for the question if you were sponsored by Monsanto, but I was shocked. And I’m very glad that I’m not the only one.

    But I am not just critical. I have data on how to control weeds better and what to learn from them!
    Once you know that, weeds will become your friends!
    What?!?! Why???

    Because each weed that grows in your soil tells you what your soil is lacking in plant available minerals!

    You need to get and read the following books:
    When Weeds Talk – By Jay L. McCaman
    and
    Weeds and What They Tell Us – By Ehrenfried E. Pfeiffer.

    Both books are easy to read and understand. The first one is in table form and shows for each weed which minerals are low in your soil.
    So in case of Bermuda Grass, your soil is low in CA, P2O5, Mg and high in SO4 and low in Humus.
    You need to supply those to your soil and once it’s balanced, those weeds will mostly leave.

    Pests and insects:

    And some data about pests and bugs eating your crops. They have a purpose too! They are the “Garbage collectors of nature”
    You need to get the sugar content of your plants and fruits up(measured in Brix) and those pests will leave your crops alone! They can’t digest high sugar.

    Data about this you find on the web page :Highbrixgardens.com . And they have a table which shows how much Brix a fruit or vegetable should have to be good.
    Then there is the excellent book “Nourishment Home Grown” By Dr. Beddoe, which tells you all about how much and which minerals your soil needs to have for your vegetables to become excellent and nutrient rich!

    And isn’t that why we all do the gardening?

    Good luck!

    Martin

    1. DrRoss says:

      Thanks for the “heads up” on “When Weeds Talk – By Jay L. McCaman and “Weeds and What They Tell Us”.
      I have never believed weeds were the “enemy”. Most of them have long roots that reach down where
      food plants can’t reach. They bring to the surface minerals, that are buried deep, so our food plants
      can use them in our food. Just soak them with water and pull them up when you get ready to put them
      in the compost heap. They only take up sunlight from your other plants. Their nutrients come from deep
      in the ground.
      On the other hand, lots of what we call “weeds” are medicinal plants. Other than making your yard
      look ugly, they really do have a purpose.

      1. Emily says:

        Canadian thistle roots go deeper than five feet AND are not contiguous. Don’t know how the plant does that! The last, at five feet plus, have a whole foot before the root above them was. I spent four years digging them up in clay soil, which kept the garden free of them for about ten years. (I removed the surface ones early, of course, every year.)

  • Maury says:

    Thank you for your very helpful response! I would never have thought of a partially “sunken-raised bed”. Lol. I have decided to start smaller than my original plan and test two different methods at once. The rain and wind and heat , seeds, watering and weeding will be the same (serving as a controll group within my experiment).
    I’m so excited to get started!

  • Jane says:

    I live in NE Wisconsin. At the end of this July, I harvested 186 garlic. Now for my problem, NO WORMS in the whole bed. I have no idea what happened. I have never had that happen before. Suggestions/solutions ??
    My husband and I just finished preparing the expanded part of my garden. It is virgin field and has never been disturbed. We tilled it last fall and again this spring. We laid really large pieces of cardboard over the area we wanted, added about 6 or so inches of fresh compost (not broken down) and about that much much more of a mixture of compost, peat, and sand. That was topped with several inches of marsh hay. Each layer got a good soaking before adding the next. I cannot wait till next spring so I can plant right through all that goodness. We did the same thing when we made our initial garden about 9 years ago. We have always had good luck EXCEPT for the raised bed with the garlic. First time NO WORMS!!

    1. Did you know that earthworms are not native to North America? So, maybe its ok that you don’t have earthworms.

  • ken hargesheimer says:

    Organic, no-till gardening in permanent beds, with permanent paths, using hand tools, takes almost no funds, increases yields 50 to 100%, reduces labor by 50 to 75%, reduces expenses to nearly 0, creates healthy soil with high fertility, stops soil compaction, rainwater runoff, soil erosion and eliminates most weed, disease and insect problems.

    With no-till, organic matter [green manure/cover crops or weeds or crop residue] generates the following results:
     The mulch gradually rots into the soil providing a constant supply of nutrients while eliminating composting.
     Moisture retention due to the mulch means reduced need for watering; saving both resources and labor.
     Mulch prevents weeds from growing, reducing another laborious chore.
     Because of greater nutrients, plants can be planted twice as densely as normally recommended.
     The combination of denser spacing and healthy soil means a fourfold increase in yield. Josef Graf
    More free info from minifarms@gmail.com Nothing to sell.

  • Roberto says:

    According to world renown soil life expert Dr. Elain Ingham, you simply need to change the soil microbe diversity weighted towards a more fungal dominated soil microbiome to eliminate grasses.

    Learn to compost and make compost tea correctly for the quickest technique (take her classes). The longer method is to just throw tons of wood chip mulch everywhere you want to rid the grasses and inoculate with wide diversity of fungal spores and let the magic of natural ecological succession happen. Easy peasy!

    Booo Monsanto products!!!

    1. I want to second that thought. The weeds are a reaction to the soil microbes which are there at the moment. If you want to change what is growing there, you have to change the microbiology. So, lots of compost tea and a cover crop or two. We put some 90 day velvet beans out on some mostly clay hills and they have done surprisingly well for us totally ignoring them.
      Wood chips are mainly carbon; it would be faster to have some plant pulling the nitrogen out of the air. That is what the beans and/or clover do.

  • Susette Gertsch says:

    I have a friend who used vinegar where she wanted to remove a fairly large patch of grass and it took time but worked perfectly to kill the grass.

  • Aaron C. says:

    Chickens will destroy all grass and they can be appointed to an area via the chicken tractor. Please don’t use chemicals everyone, please. The grass is beneficial to the birds.

    1. Nance Shaw says:

      My chickens did not like my st. Augustine grass. They ate a lot of the weeds (bindweed, which I prefer to call Morning Glories and love, and other viney things.) but left ALL the healthy St. Augustine. I considered getting the pigs to the new patch, but was afraid I couldn’t entice them past the old garden.

      Now, I have cardboard, compost and mulch. Then I planted pinto beans to help with nitrogen and green matter as the frost kills them – probably tonight. Hope to plant the three sisters there in the spring. Crossing my fingers the cardboard is dissolved by then.

  • Jim says:

    You gave some good ideas, but I would rather pull weeds then use round up. I’m sure my chickens and bees and and pets and all the other wildlife will thank you for it. Keep on pulling

  • suzie queue says:

    I have not tilled my garden in years. When I start a new plot, I lay down black rubber sheets I got for free from a friend. It kills the grass. Cooks it dead in the sun. I remove the sheets and begin to lay down at least a foot or more of stable cleanings I get for free from a neighbor who has horses (she was looking for a place to dump it). She delivers it right to my garden and unloads it right on the garden. I have her do that from late fall to end of February. I then have her dump in a pile to compost nearby the rest of the year. The garden then has a change to compost through the winter up to planting time in mid-April (for cold crops). By May 15, after danger of frost, I plant warm crops. This has worked for me ever since I read back in the 1970’s about the Ruth Stout method of no-till gardening. I was sold on it ever since.

    1. Bob says:

      Suzie, I have heard that horses cannot digest weed seed like cows can, hench horse manure will allow weed to grow from it..what, if any, is your experience with this?

  • Noel says:

    Weeds are just trying to heal damaged or deficient soil.
    Too much Nitrogen? You get Nettle.
    Compact soil? You get weeds with tap roots.
    Powdery soil ready to erode away by wind? You get weeds with fibrous roots.
    Weeds are our friends.
    Roundup is certainly not!

  • Janine says:

    There are two methods I’ve learned of – one is to use agricultural vinegar (extremely strong) and the other is a product called Supress that according to my local feed store guy, is organic.

  • Methane says:

    Marjory, we like to use vinegar full strength in a spray bottle for weeds. Some weeds require more persistent spraying, but it beats hoeing!

  • Linda Beck says:

    I have 4 raised veggie beds and some flower rows. While using broad fork in early spring I turn over the soil that contains grasses I don’t use in the garden and let it sit for a few days. The worms don’t mind and the roots die from exposure to sun and air.
    If you want to remove the weed, step on it to loosen from garden soil, pick it up and place in compost pile.

  • Sonja says:

    Please don’t recommend Roundup ever. Nature doesn’t need us, we need nature….

  • Linda Beck says:

    It’s Linda again, I forgot to mention that I consider roundup a poison both to the soil, living beings, the air , water, neighbors, and the unhealthy, prevalent cultural attitude towards chemical fix. Nothing that would harm your worms or soil should be attempted in your pristine soil, or anywhere near your own body.
    Organic standards were our ancestors gifts to us. Remember them, please!

  • brad says:

    New book coming out by Chelsea Green called Mycorrhizal Planet – about incorporating the fungal networks into our cropping. i love this book as a practical assist to other permaculture concepts. Here’s MY problem:

    i have about 16 acres of basically flat, irrigated soil in northern California. We have our own acquifer – controlled by the largest single lake totally in the state (Tahoe is shared) and one of the oldest lakes in the whole world. So the bureaucrats can’t steal the water like they do from reservoirs so they can CAUSE drought…. Pretty good soil, but had been mined with NO inputs for over 11 years of hay getting raped – i mean ripped – off the land.

    We are turning some into hay pasture, some into rotational paddock grazing for goats, maybe hogs with them (man are they destructive) and chickens. Maybe eventually a cow or two. But the rest of the field is an issue.

    We put in Blue-tinged Ethiopian Emmer, Sonora White, and an ancient Blue Zapatista corn. The drill we have comes from the 1930s and the assmebly and instruction manuals (both original) even show how to hook it up for either tractor, or 2, 3, 4, or 6 horse hitch. Hmmm. NOT HEAVY ENOUGH FOR NO-TILL.

    Even if it were, the green manure crop we had put in during our first season keeps reseeding the vetch – a real problem with wheat types of grain as the seeds are VERY difficult to separate. At this point we pretty much need to till, but probably need to try and keep it shallow to just kill off the upper couple of inches?????

    If we did have those two great American Myths – spare time and spare money – we could get a rototiller sort of set up for the larger tractor and i’m thinking strip cropping with shallow tillage there.

    Anyone running into similar issues – preferably one with solutions? AFFORDABLE solutions, lol?

    1. Richard says:

      Make your green mulch into silage before applying it on your field. Lot’s of silage making on youtube. Normally used for animal fodder, it is a excellent mulch full of benificial microbes. Check out this recent presentation I gave here in Fiji
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0kCtyS_9SE&feature=youtu.be

  • geraldc says:

    Wife and I have 44 year old garden with 22 — 100 ft rows and 6 –70 ft rows. We grow Better Boy. Early Girl and Rutgers tomatoes, running green beans, pinkeyed purplehull peas, Blackeyed peas, cucumbers, red potatoes, green butter beans and few red peppers. I have always maintained 6.5 to 7.5 ph, using Dolomite (quick acting lime) when needed, put all my wood heater ash in garden, put lots of leaves in garden. Mt tomato planters are in 28 in diameter cage 47 in high with T post driven in ground in case high winds come in. Plants with be pruned to see thro and are over 6 ft tall. Slice my tomato covers slice of bread. Using 5-10-15 always. I will always turn and harrow my garden and lay out rows 36 in apart with 12 in by 3 in beds for all my plants. My 2 Blue Strip drip water system on each row works great. Spraying my plants with 1 cup baking soda in 1 gal water keep control on bugs. Weed close to plants with my hoe and by hard. We can in mason jars all we can do , give away lots of vegas and have at least 5 years of canned food always.

  • Bob says:

    Has anyone ever used a sod cutter to start a virgin garden plot that has not been tilled/planted for awhile? They can be set to different depths, and can slice the top layer of soil off to just barely take the weed roots and all, along with maybe the top inch of soil..I know it would be good to keep that top inch, but to get the top weed roots, you must sacrifice some soil..this will negate the use of herbicides, and should take less time to build up the top soil for no-till..I have never used a sod cutter for this myself, but it would seem a reasonable alternative to herbicides..if you have, please post your results-thanks!

  • Lynnet says:

    When I started a garden bed in my rough lawn, my concerns were Johnson grass and bindweed, both of which are endemic here. I laid down chicken bedding, then several layers of cardboard. Then I layered in top soil and compost. The garden bed is surrounded by cement blocks on their sides, which makes nice pots where I planted mints and other herbs. Cardboard under the cement block pots too. The bees love the herbs. I noticed the Johnson grass did try to creep in from the side, so I cleared another 18 inch border all around the bed, covered with 2 layers of cardboard and 4 inches deep of wood chip. That plus a little work with the trowel whenever I see a pioneer grass or bindweed plant, has kept my garden grass and bindweed free for 5 years. In our area Johnson grass runners won’t travel more than 18 inches, so if you can keep a weed-free border, you’re OK. I have never rototilled, and just do a little shallow work with the spading fork once a year to aerate the soil. Each year some more chicken bedding, gypsum (we have alkaline soil), leaves, and compost, layered on top. No Roundup Ever! Not a drop. Never will be. Our health is important to us, and the health of the wildlife large and small that live or forage in our acre.

  • Anita says:

    Following you from Europe, how can you promote Roundup in any way? I`m an organic living person but a last year lab testing brought out, Glyphosat already is in every one`s body. Is not about Roundup only, it`s about any chemicals or artificial stuff using on soil. Please: no herpicide, no plastic, no chemical fertilizer – go natural, go for life. There are many ways to get rid of weeds but it`s not all about to fight it, its about to understand it. Better to learn how weed show the condition of the soil and treat it the right way.

  • Brenda Mizar SCOBEY-MIZAR says:

    I am still pulling weeds. Looks like the weeds are winning but I’m afraid of using round-up or any herbicide. I live in an agricultural area and I’m sure there is plenty of poisons already in the water but I don’t want to add to it. I don’t think poisons and herbicides just go away because I cannot see them. I do believe that they probably go deeper into the ground with each rain until they enter our water supply. So many people have reflux and other gut problems and I am concerned it has to do with our eating get and drinking of pesticides and herbicides. I am 65 years old and do not remember so many people having intestinal diseases and cancer as much as I see today. So, I keep pulling weeds and sometimes tilling when the weeds overtake my garden area to the point of giving up gardening because of the weeds. I did learn recently from grow networks 2016 summit that some of these weeds are good medicine so I’ve been making tea out of them but seem to have multiplied even more. Anyone for tea?

  • Penny says:

    When two cousins and I started a 1/4 acre garden 5 years ago, we were faced with a hayfield full of deep rooted, root-suckering field grasses that tilling just multiplies. Unwilling to put any chemical on a field that had not seen chemicals in at least 35 years, we spread a big back plastic tarp in the late fall and pulled it off in March. It killed everything under it, including noxious Canada thistle. We put a 3 foot wide swath of professional grade black plastic around the perimeter of the garden, in hopes that it would be wide enough to stop further intrusion of Canada thistle roots. Until this fall, we were able to just hand till in intervening years. Unfortunately, a 3 foot swath of plastic is not enough space to deter determined Canada thistle — after 5 years, it’s coming up all over the garden (now 1/8 of an acre), despite our efforts to dig it up when we find it. So late this fall, we once again covered the garden in black plastic, this time using discarded swimming pool covers collected from friends. In the spring, we’ll also add to our perimeter of plastic, 9 feet wide on the side that has the Canada thistle. Am I thrilled that we were not able to take advantage of winter precipitation and that we have discouraged the soil organisms over the winter? No. But it still beats putting glysophate on the soil.

    An aside: Be careful with wood chips — our area has lots of walnut trees, which means there’s walnut wood in the wood chips from local suppliers. Walnut is alelopathic, meaning that it kills or stunts those plants that are sensitive to it, as are most vegetable plants and many flowers. I knew about the problems of walnut trees, because I had them in my yard, but it never occurred to me to be wary of local wood chips. I learned the hard way.

    1. Julia says:

      To the best of my knowledge, thistles seed by the wind just like dandelions. Goats will eat Canadian thistles when young or you can try just keeping the area mowed low.

      1. Penny says:

        Thistles from seed would not be hard to deal with — we could just pull the sprouts when they’re small. In any case, we never have thistles that go to seed anyway — the large hay field surrounding the garden is harvested several times a year, before the thistles have a chance to go to seed. Now, thistles from underground suckers are a whole ‘nother ball game — pull the above ground part and the underground root sucker (at least 18″ deep) just keeps on going and pops up later. Seriously, these thistles are determined buggers. Goats are an impractical solution for inside a garden, because they eat everything else, too. We haven’t the dedication to take care of goats in the area outside the garden, at least in part because we don’t live on the land where we garden. Good suggestion, though.

  • I find that pouring boiling water on grass works like a charm. Be sure to cut the grass down to the ground first with a weedeater then have at it. It also destroys fire ant mounds, a big problem here in the Deep South.

  • Melody Rector says:

    My favorite way to kill grasses when setting up a new garden area is cardboard, and lots of it.

    First, I lay down a double or triple layer of wet newspapers. Then, I cover that with several layers of corrugated cardboard from old boxes, at least an inch thick. I cover that with the typical Lasagna Garden layers: compost, greens and browns that will break down to form compost, dirt, and mulch. I have found this method most effective within raised beds, but it would probably work without them, too.

    At the end of the gardening season, I remove plants and compost them, then top the gardens off with more layers of greens and browns. I heap it as high as I can, it’ll break down over the winter. I stack hay on top in rows like shingles and it acts like a thatched roof to keep the wind from blowing everything away.

  • Brian Parks says:

    It should go without saying: NEVER USE ROUNDUP! I can’t tell anyone the best way to garden, but after over 50 years of gardening every year, i am learning to be a better gardener. I employ many methods which work differently for different crops in different places in the garden. It would take up a book to explain them all. But, one of the easiest ways i have learned is the *raised container bed*. Wood sided frames measuring 4 feet by 8 feet by 12 inches high filled with compost rich garden loam separated by well mulched 2 foot wide pathways. I loosen the soil with a fork, and almost never use a shovel. As long as plants have the proper spacing and the soil is properly mulched the plants will thrive and weeding and watering are minimized. Weeds are either composted or left to dry out on top of the mulch in the beds or the pathways. More and more my methods have become simpler and simpler. Compost teas and pee pee are all the fertilizers i ever apply. Keep your soil covered and KISS: keep it simple, sweetie!

  • Michelle says:

    I’m very surprised and greatly disappointed to hear you say the R- word, Marjory. I’m buying new land with high grass and I really don’t want to have to use R-. I will go to great lengths and suffer to avoid it, but I will pray and work on building the ecosystem. Please don’t ever say that again. In God we Trust!

  • ken hargesheimer says:

    Do not buy anything from anybody for the garden or farm except seed. Mark off the permanent beds and cut down the grass and plants. Keep the grass and weeds cut down for mulch. For more info, email minifarms@gmail.com. I sell nothing.

  • John Asdourian says:

    Wow, sure did get a lot of response to using Roundup. I would like to see Marjory do a video on sheet mulching as that is what we will do to deter the invasive species of grass in our Community Garden this Spring as I recently fell into a position as its Director.

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    i fried a lawn on purpose using the sun and clear plastic painter’s draping and even colored tarps…..left them on there making sure to cook out “weed” seeds and it worked great.

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  • Emily says:

    If you keep tilling peat moss into clay soil, you eventually get soil you sink into when you walk, and it’s easy to wet between rows and pull the weeds. (I feed weeds to elk and deer. Elk eat Canadian thistle like ice cream!)j

    It’s more expensive, but very quick, to buy the kind of floor covering made from tires. It’s heavy. In only a few hours (not even in hot weather), grass under it is yellow. And it’s easy to move and doesn’t disintegrate.

    No till? I bought quite a few wheelbarrows, lined the bottom with rocks, put soil in them (with a tractor – worms and all), and planted. Few weeds, and they’re easier to get to. A cold snap, I wheel the plants into the shop which is heated, wheel them out again when the weather is good. (I have often thought a person could make a greenhouse by making a parking spot for the wheelbarrows and putting glass on the sides.) A person could give a wheelbarrow with veggies or flowers in it as a gift. Speaking of which, if you have thieves, they can leave with the wheelbarrow … unless you have a big dog, which I do.

  • Richard says:

    This is how we are replacing chemicals in agriculture here in Fiji. Check out this green waste mulcher for a 3 point hitch PTO tractor. 16:40 minutes

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0kCtyS_9SE&feature=youtu.be

  • Tom says:

    I tried the no till method and found after about 3 years the raised beds were invaded by roots from the pine trees near the garden. I use black plastic tarps to start new gardens and never use R.U. I tell my friends, ” If I can’t put it in on my salad, Why would I put it on my plants? ” Not totally true, I wouldn’t add Neptune’s Harvest to my salad! I do use it on my plants. I also use vinegar on weeds that aren’t too close to the plants I’m growing.

  • Joan smith says:

    The problem is everybody wants an instant garden. You just can’t pull up grass one day and plant the next. It takes 1 whole summer to kill the grass (Bermuda). You have to deprive it of light and don’t let it go dormant. You do this by using tarp or thick black plastic. I have found some black tarps let a little light in so now I use cardboard with a tarp over it. The area much be watered first so the grass won’t go into drought mode. I find you have to go through a whole growing season for this to work well.

  • Madeleine Innocent says:

    If a plant is persistent, maybe you should look at what it is doing for you. Nature is perfect. Change how you think and bring it in.

  • Debbie says:

    I will not use Roundup, even once! I think you definitely need to till when starting a garden in a new area, unless you are doing raised beds and bringing in weed-free soil from elsewhere. I have quackgrass here, which spreads by underground roots that make such a thick, deep mat that I cannot cut into it with a shovel. The best solution I have found is too cover the area with a thick layer of cardboard or newspaper or weed-blocking fabric, depending on what I have available. I tried plastic, but it disintegrates in the sun and makes a big mess that is hard to dispose of. Then I wait…and wait, until the leaves are thoroughly dead and the roots have at least stopped spreading. At that point I can turn the soil and remove the roots to bury in my compost pile. Chopping them up and leaving them there will only cause the grass to spread.

  • I have been able to succeed against the weeds without tilling to start a new garden area. Started with mowing the area and the surrounding fields to cover the ground then covered that with discarded wall–to-wall carpet over the winter. Rolled up the carpet, raked back any remaining hay mulch and forked out quack grass roots then added more grass and recovered with the carpet. Transplanted pumpkins in the seams between the sections of carpet.
    You can watch it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69REq9HCYBs

  • Anne Bierhorst says:

    I’d like to give you a Rx for weed killer. A friend got this from the internet a few years ago and it works as well as round-up—but is organic. Take 1 gallon white vinegar, add 2 cups epsom salt, and 2 cup original Dawn dish detergent. mix together and spray on weeds only. Anything you spray will die. the epsom salt will give back minerals to the soil,the vinegar kills the weeds and the soap helps it stick to the plant. works great in 3-4 days the weeds die and don’t come back for a couple of weeks. It’s great for brick walkways and patios–after the weeds die just burn them with the weed burner.

  • ken hargesheimer says:

    Control weeds, etc using organic, no-till gardening in permanent beds. Keep the beds well mulched. After 2-3 years weeds will not be a problem. Read N0-WORK gardening by Ruth Stout. For 2-page free info, minifarms@gmail.com

  • Donna says:

    Make a lasagna garden.
    Start with cardboard, then green, then peat moss, etc, and keep layering. I did this on a piece of lawn with stubborn weeks including many dandelions. Not only did a have perfect soil to use in the spring, but NO weeds
    http://greenthumbs.cedwvu.org/factsheets/lasagna.php

    1. Emily says:

      Emily I grow 17 acres of dandelions for the bees in spring, the ground birds in summer, the elk and deer in winter. Killing dandelions should be a crime.

  • Bob says:

    Roundup? No, NO, NEVER!!! Respect the environment and you will respect your decedents and neighbors. Use layers of cardboard, newspaper, pesticide/herbicide free grass clippings and be PATIENT. Work with Mother Nature. Do NOT go to war with her.

    As a tangential aside, unless humans drastically change from our petroleum-based life, we will prove that we are the least successful species in the history of earth. We have only been here up to 200,000 years. How much longer depending on poisonous pesticides/herbicides, genetic engineering, and polluting the environment can one really believe we will last? Does anyone seriously believe we will be as successful as the dinosaurs (175,000,000 years) living by our current standards?

  • Sue says:

    My Mom used to use a trowel to remove grass like patches on the lawn that weren’t really grass but weed like structures that choked the lawn or regular grass. She never used weed killer. Just a good old hand trowel. She would also layer the backyard garden area with leaves, plucked weeds and kitchen compost. The soil needed to be tilled because the soil would get too tough for the plants roots systems without it. Tilling can be a big job if you have a lot of garden space and you try to accomplish it
    by hand.

  • If you are still reading these, add another vote against Roundup, or use of any Monsanto product. Even if glyphosate left no residue, it is an immoral act against nature and humanity.

  • ken hargesheimer says:

    I have two organic, no-till dvds I mail, free, to anyone who request them by emailing to me their postal address. minifarms@gmail.com

  • David says:

    I loved reading “The One Straw Revolution” and discovering Masanobu-san’s life work in this area. It came to my realization a couple years after becoming familiar with the “Back to Eden” gardening method espoused by Paul Gautschi. I then wondered just how much Mr. Gautschi himself may have been influenced by Masanobu’s work. Either way, no-till gardening and permaculture practices seem like a hand-in-glove fit.

  • ken hargesheimer says:

    Organic, no-till gardening in permanent beds, with permanent paths, using hand tools, takes almost no funds, increases yields 50 to 100%, reduces labor by 50 to 75%, reduces expenses to nearly 0 [seed only], creates healthy soil with high fertility, stops soil compaction, rainwater runoff, soil erosion and eliminates most weed, disease and insect problems.

  • CaptTurbo says:

    I have to dig my garden every few years to remove the massive tree roots that invade it. The trees seek out the composted goodness I put into it.

  • Dave says:

    I’m more than a back yard farmer, I use to work approx. 100 acres of organic produce, and when I had a grass problem I did one of 2 things. I would fall plow and expose roots of the grass

  • Emily says:

    Heavy clay soil with rocks. Year after year, I tilled in peat moss. I even dug by hand five feet down to remove Canadian thistle infestation. Finally, the soil sinks down when you walk on it, the worms are happy, and the plants grow. Swallows live under cabbage leaves and feast off visiting worms. Once in a while, I cover plants with chicken wire, water the in-between weeds, and let the duck crowd in. They eat the weeds’ roots if the soil is wet.
    Grass clippings: Put them in black plastic bags in the sun until they turn into black soil, and bake in the heat. When they are soil, poke holes in the bottom and run water in the top, letting it drain on a cement walkway. I think this removes pesticides, and if any are left, the residue will do the walkway some good. This soil is the best.

  • Gayle says:

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    toxic chemical that reeks havoc with all forms of life on this planet. We have been lied to and
    manipulated by the manufactures of this poison, and the government agency’s that are in collusion with the manufactures. I could expound for volumes. My wish for any one who uses this chemical for what ever reason, is that they come to their senses and quit polluting the only home that we have.

  • Tom Bazelak says:

    When I tried the No till garden, I found the soil became root bound by the surrounding pine trees. I have a small tiller and plan on getting a broadfork soon.

  • Greg Sava says:

    I see many comments refuting the use of Round Up. There is never a sound reason to use round up- besides killing weed, it destroys soil micro organisms and will get into the life cycle of everything, eventually wreaking havoc with our own bodies’ microbes. If you want to have any credibility, I urge you to delete that remark in your video or at least ass an update renouncing its use. There is ample evidence now of Round ups’ danger. As other commentators have pointed out, there are many ways to start a garden on new ground without chemicals.

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