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I have been working on a new garden area. It is roughly 40 x 70, soil is sandy loam. I tilled it twice with my old 1966 Wards front tine tiller. Has that thing since it was new, never fails to amaze me. It just keeps going.

I tilled the area twice going in both directions. Then I picked up all the clumps of sod that were left on top. Next I will till it again and then pick sod one more time.

Then I will add about 24 yards of well rotted cow manure from my local farmer friend, and till that in. Used some last year in my other garden and had sweet corn I couldn't reach the top of.

Probably throw in a few 3.8 cubic ft bags of peat on the real sandy end. PH test shows I need to add some lime, get that on there as well.

Then I think it will be good to go.


I grind my leaves every year and till them into the gardens as well.

Be nice to have a garden i can grow some potatoes in. My other garden area leans towards the clay side, and the potatoes do not grow so good there. And the ones that do grow take forever to boil. They are like rocks.

I love peppers so I grow Sweet Pimento's, Sweet Cherries, Petite Color mini bells for pickling, plus Jalapenos, regular bells. Plus I always grow a ton of Tomato's, cukes, and other goodies.

I love my garden. Great source of quality viddles with no poisons.

I have to leave a lot of room between the plants because I am limited in time for weeding. So I run my Horse through between the rows and plants.

And, it is very therapeutic to spend time in the garden away from the troubles of the shop.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Here are a couple pics. Note my old 66 Wards tiller wearing a dishpan. That is what I used to break the sod up. In these pics the area is about 30 x 70. There is a stump by the tiller I need to dig out, probably get my neighbor to use his backhoe. Next year I will add another 10-15 feet in width. I want to get it done for this year so I can plant it.

The first 3rd of the area has the sod picked up. Since these were taken the sod has been completely removed. I use the sod to fill in holes around the yard. It's easier for me to remove the sod, I won't loose any dirt because I add about 5 to 6" of manure on top.
 

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I like the fashionable head wear (dish pan) on the tiller. My old Ariens front tne sports a broken shop vac bucket.

Did that light post just sprout there, or is it there for night time weed chasing.
 

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I like the fashionable head wear (dish pan) on the tiller. My old Ariens front tne sports a broken shop vac bucket.

Did that light post just sprout there, or is it there for night time weed chasing.
That is because they have discriminating DEER! Only choice crops are stolen!!

:fing20:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I like the fashionable head wear (dish pan) on the tiller. My old Ariens front tne sports a broken shop vac bucket.

Did that light post just sprout there, or is it there for night time weed chasing.
That light sprouted there 20 years ago when we first dug out all the stumps and put in the grass. It is about 60 ft from the house. Used to use it neons ago, hasn't been light in 14 years. I pan on plucking it out, as my new greenhouse is going right there.

This entire lot was solid woods when we bought it, filled with garbage trees like white birch, soft maple, poplar, and numerous other dead and junk trees. We clear cut most of it. Found 1 good apple tree, about 10 hard maples and 1 cherry. Rest was cut and burned for heat. Then I rented a big excavator and dug for 3 weeks. Got all the stumps plus a nice pond that is fed by a spring.

The building you see through the trees is one of may garages where I keep my junk. About 2000 sq ft and still not big enough. I guess I got to build another building or quit buying every garden tractor and tiller I see........


Yeah, the dish pan hat keeps the water off when I am too lazy to put it inside.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Some headway..........

Made a little bit of headway. These pics are after all sod picked twice, 32 cubic ft of peat moss added in center where really sandy, then 2 inches of rotted manure on top of the entire plot, then re-tilled again.

I have lots more manure, but so wet I can not get to the garden with machinery right now. No way I am wheeling it from the road which is 200 feet away.

Pics show the garden, plus some visitors the other day, and my babies watching me work.
 

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Potatoes like potassium. I wouldn't be affraid to dump a fair amount in the soil where taters are growing. There is a science to WHEN you should add your K though, but I'm not well versed in it. It shouldn't be hard to discover with a simple google search.

Also, grinding leaves (dead?) into the garden seems like it would leach out your nitrogen and contribute very little since leaves are mostly carbon once the chlorphyll is gone. The carbon will simply be converted to CO2 and lost. Leaves might help aerate a clay soil, but a sandy loam shouldn't be that heavy. I would worry about the nitrogen loss and minimal contribution of dead leaves. At least with wood chips, you could say you're adding minerals mined-up from a deep-rooted tree, but leaves are pretty much C6 H10 O5 (cellulose)... which is nothing but gas and water... and a small amount of lignin, which is more CHO, but harder to break down. Something green will have chlorophyll which is a Mg with 4 N's around it. That's what you want to grind in. Green is gold ;)

Btw, CADplans, are you the one from whom I bought my caddigger?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Potatoes like potassium. I wouldn't be affraid to dump a fair amount in the soil where taters are growing. There is a science to WHEN you should add your K though, but I'm not well versed in it. It shouldn't be hard to discover with a simple google search.

Also, grinding leaves (dead?) into the garden seems like it would leach out your nitrogen and contribute very little since leaves are mostly carbon once the chlorphyll is gone. The carbon will simply be converted to CO2 and lost. Leaves might help aerate a clay soil, but a sandy loam shouldn't be that heavy. I would worry about the nitrogen loss and minimal contribution of dead leaves.
I have been doing it for years with my garden areas. My soils run from sand to clay, and the ground up leaves add structure to the soil. Adding leaves in the sand seems to help keep the moisture in. I always use a lot more manure than leaves, but using my own leaves saves a lot of money over buying bagged "leaf mold", which is ground up leaves.

A neighbor used to have a big garden in her back yard, sandy soil, very poor "blow sand". First couple years she lived there her garden sucked. But then the 3rd year she started having good results. I was over at her house one day and there was 4 inches of leaves on top of her entire garden. Her son was tilling them in. Turns our she put all her leaves into the garden every fall, seemed to help hers greatly. So, I started using mine in the garden. Then again, I only clean up around 3 trees by my gazebo, I don't rake the whole yard.

I use a lot of other organics as well, grass, ground up yard waste, compost, and of course - rotted cow manure. I have found the green grass gets real slimy and stinky when it rots, so I compost it first. I hate kneeling in it. I also check my ph every year several times, and adjust if necessary.

I know I have seen some people use hay with their taters, but I do not like the gray powdery mold hay gets. Stinks to high heaven.

I try to use only organics, but if my garden runs low in late year I will give it a light shot of bagged fertilizer to boost it up. There are more friendly fertilizers on the market now.
 

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Can't say how much of a great investment that turned out to be! I don't want to hijack the thread, but I want to say I use the digger all the time. I dug a 50x100-10ft deep pond with it. I use it to turn my compost piles. Pull up stumps. Split logs. Its simply awesome! I'm using it now to dig up topsoil for relocation on my lawn. I thought about selling it once and building a new one, but I don't think I could live without it long enough.

I wore out the 10hp briggs engine. Replaced with a 16hp. I also made the bucket longer and wider. I added a section of railroad track to the back for weight. I thought about upgrading to a high volume pump for more speed since I have a bigger engine, but its not bad the way it is.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know how happy I am with it since we met here by chance :)

Sorry to get off-topic.
 

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Bob, I think you can use wood ashes as a source of potassium. One study I read which looked at the elemental analysis of varius woods burned at 600C shown pine to have 29% Ca, 16% K, 7% Mg, 1% S. White oak was 31% Ca, 10% K, 7.5% Mg, 1% S. The pine has a bit more Mn at 4% vs .14% for white oak. Not sure if that is good or not.

I know people who use leaves in gardens with good success. They do contain some things that last, like lignin and a few minerals, but the vast majority is CHO.

Here is a good article by William Albrecht http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010120albrecht.usdayrbk/lsom.html

Building Soil Organic Matter Largely a Nitrogen Problem

"Soil bacteria, the agents of decomposition, use carbon mainly as fuel and nitrogen as building material for their bodies and for the production of the intricate organic compounds that result from their activity. Fresh organic matter is characterized as a rule by a large amount of carbon in relation to nitrogen. It has a wide carbon-nitrogen ratio, in other words; or so far as the bacteria are concerned, a wide ratio of fuel to building material. Such fresh material--straw, for example--may have a ratio that is too wide, so that it decomposes very slowly. If the ratio is less wide, decomposition may be more actively carried on. The carbon will then be rapidly used up as fuel while the nitrogen is held or treasured without appreciable loss.

Thus when decay has proceeded to the point where the carbon-nitrogen ratio is significantly decreased, a residue of a more stable nature is produced. Thereafter the carbon-nitrogen ratio is narrower and remains more constant. This corresponds more nearly to the condition that holds in the case of the organic matter in virgin soils. Its further decay, which is slow because of the relatively low level of carbon, liberates nitrogen in place of storing or preserving it. Because of its high carbon content, the decomposition of fresh organic matter requires additional soluble nitrogen to be used as building material by the micro-organisms, which obtain it from the soil, often exhausting the supply to a degree that is damaging to a growing crop. The amount of increase in organic material corresponds, in the main, to the amount of nitrogen available. The extra carbon in the fresh material is lost from the soil. Thus when soils are given straws, fodders, and similar crop residues of low nitrogen content, only small increases in soil organic matter can result--in the main, only as large as the added nitrogen will permit. Many tons of common farm residues and wastes per acre are needed to produce a single additional ton of organic matter in the soil."
 

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Around here most of the soil is Red Clay to start a new garden plot need to chisel plow in the Fall,chisel again early Spring then till with the tractor tiller,plant things like Blackeye peas all Summer,plus add organic matter,lime and and lots of manure.Till it all under in the Fall, plant a cover crop for Winter like Wheat and Hairy Vetch then maybe It'll be ready to plant a garden in once everything is tilled down.
 

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There is more going on than just nitrogen additives when you are piling leaves into the soil, and tilling them in. For far too long, science has taken more of a look at the "chemical" side of growing food. Science has proven that adding mass amounts of fertilizers, herbicides, and whatnot DO grow things. Not the best or most nutritious, but still -- it does grow.

Adding leaves, manure (green or "brown") mulch, halm, grass clippings, etc etc. does indeed build soil. It's not all about the depleted or residual nitrogen, magnesium, or potassium that might be left in the leaves. That leaf mold is perfect food for earthworms and beneficial nematodes. Earthworms do a far better job of soil maintenance than anything out there. Feed them, feeds the soil, feeds the plants, which feeds us. (with food that's healthier in the long run)

Let's not badger the dead horse on the leaves. They DO work, they do help, and it's not a bad idea to add them. Any doubt, just look at what I have done with them in my gardens over the years. ;-) I have even kept a running photo log of this year's work in a separate thread. Leaf mulch & all!
 

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So the subject of depleted soil, you need minerals. Where do minerals come from? If you're composting the stuff grown on your land, which may be lacking in minerals, then where are the minerals going to come from? Humus is good for holding mineral ions in an exchangeable form for plants to use, but if you have no minerals, then the humus is just holding more H ions. If you're harvesting your garden, consuming it, and not putting back the minerals, then its not sustainable and the ground is being depleted with each harvest. You have to ask yourself, where are your minerals going to come from.
 

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Another year, and the plot has thickened - or rather grew in size. I got the stump pulled, more than doubled the size that I had last year. Removed the old light. Tilled it a dozen times both ways.

Last years harvest was OK, but the soil still need more rotted manure.

Old tiller still going at it, not in these pics it is working in my other gardens at the present time.

Still have a bit of sod and grass to pull this year.

Got the sandy section in the middle tuned up, but now have a sandy corner to deal with. Still wet here, hard to get manure in.
 

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Looks nice. I remember when I could do that with a front tine tiller. Can't run one anymore. I do most of my work with my tractors and use a rear tine Cub Cadet between the rows.
 

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Wow - that's a huge area for a front tine tiller! Earlier this spring I just started a 16'*26' garden (our first ever), and even with the help of a Brinley plow and removing most of the sod beforehand, tilling was a heck of a job. Added about a yard of manure and tilled that in too, for a total of 3 passes over the whole area. Relieved to be done for this spring! Just started planting, hoping to get done with the first round this weekend.
Can't imagine dealing with 70' right now - more power to you, and good luck!
 

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So the subject of depleted soil, you need minerals. Where do minerals come from? If you're composting the stuff grown on your land, which may be lacking in minerals, then where are the minerals going to come from? Humus is good for holding mineral ions in an exchangeable form for plants to use, but if you have no minerals, then the humus is just holding more H ions. If you're harvesting your garden, consuming it, and not putting back the minerals, then its not sustainable and the ground is being depleted with each harvest. You have to ask yourself, where are your minerals going to come from.
You can get Magnesium and Calcium from Lime and lots of different minerals from
Kelp and Planters II.I use a product called Neptune Harvest fish/kelp blend spray it on the plants every two weeks or so during the growing season.
Rabbit and goat manure are also great sources of minerals.
 
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