No-till gardens grow more grub
This year, I've been
learning the dangers of no-till gardening --- you may accidentally
produce enough to feed a small army.
Of our three varieties
of garlic, two
produced significantly more weight per bed in 2012 compared to 2011. Music stayed the
same, but I got 42% more garlic from the Silverwhite Silverskin and a
whopping 88% more from the Italian Softneck.
nothing. Last year's
sweet potatoes averaged 9.8 pounds per bed, giving us a total haul of
78.5 pounds of sweet tubers. That was way too much for us to eat,
so I cut our planting in half this year...and came up with a 83.5 pound
harvest! Yes, that's an increase of 114% per bed over last
year. (Guess what all of my local friends are getting for
autumnal equinox presents?)
Granted, there have been
some downsides. Perhaps a tenth of the sweet potatoes had been
gnawed on by soil-dwelling critters despite Lucy's best efforts to dig
the garden apart in search of voles. But given such high
productivity, I don't mind cutting out a few teeth marks.
And, to be entirely
fair, I think this year's increase in sweet potato production is also
due to two other factors. First, we only had one tiny deer
incursion this summer, and sweet potatoes always suffer the worst when
deer come to call. Equally important is the fact that I gave the
sweet potatoes part of the loamy front garden --- the two beds I
planted on the dividing line between loam and clay produced much less
than the other two beds did.
We don't weigh most of
our produce, so I can't tell you whether we saw increased production
among our corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, greens, and the multitude of
other vegetables we grow. But we sure had plenty to eat and
preserve this year.
And I attribute a large
part of that success to the health of our soil. Doesn't that make
you want to at least try no-till on a few beds next year?
Our chicken waterer is the innovative solution to keep manure out of drinking water.
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