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Tilling Time! A Spring Primer On The Art Of Prepping Your Soil

This is the time of year gardeners swap hard work for a gorgeous garden later.

That means tilling soil in preparation. We’ll give you a primer on what tilling does to your soil, and the tools you’ll need to till. We’ll cover when to till and the role of composting. Also, the difference between cultivating and tilling.

Also, some essential tools you’ll need to get started! But first …

What is tilling?
This refers to breaking up soil in preparation for planting. For best results, tilling should reach 8-10 inches below the surface. At this depth, loose, aerated soil is ideal for seeds and seedlings to take root and get their nutrients.

Why should I till my soil?
Hard, tightly-packed soil doesn’t give way to root growth. Plants need these essential elements to grow:

  • Moisture
  • Nutrients
  • Oxygen

Loosened soil gives plants the best survival chance. Here are other key reasons a good tilling before seeding will benefit your plants.

FERTILIZATION: Chopped-up weeds decompose easier in tilled soil and become nutrients. It can also help spread compost. This promotes microorganism growth. Microorganisms reduce pathogenic bacteria and viruses that could harm your plants.

PEST CONTROL: Did you know your soil could be full of pest larvae from the winter? Matured, they’ll compromise your crop and spread disease.

WEED PREVENTION: Tilling dices up weeds growing in the soil, and disrupts perennial weeds already rooted. Weeds compete with your plants for light, nutrients, and water.

When is the best time to till?
Till as soon as the soil is ready. Your climate zone plays an important role in zeroing in on a date. In most places, that’ll fall from March to May. The soil must thaw from winter freeze and dry from spring rains.

Till again at the end of the gardening season for the next spring. Mix in a bit of fertilizer and more compost. Cover the soil with mulch to keep these elements from running off from rain.

4 tips for the best tilling
When you get down to it, keep these pointers in mind.

1. Till dry and warm soil only
Tilling wet soil compacts the ground — the opposite of what tilling does. If a small wad of soil crumbles between your fingers, you’re ready to till.
2. Don’t till too much
Take a section at a time, like you would mowing grass. Excessive tilling can compact soil rather than break it up.
3. Go slow!

Be thorough. Work each section of your soil to the greatest extent.
4. Add compost
Spread it 4-5 inches deep before you till for even distribution.

What’s the difference between cultivating and tilling?

  • Tilling preps soil for gardening. The process turns and breaks up the soil, and mixes in added components, such as compost.
  • Cultivating breaks up the surface crust. It aerates the soil, which has similar benefits to tilling, only not as deep.

Pick the right tools
Tilling is hard work, but it doesn’t have to be the worst. Know the right tools to use at the right time to maximize your efforts.

  • Hand tools can take on smaller gardens, like a corner of your backyard. Using rakes, hoes, and hand and twist tillers takes some physical effort.
  • They’re also good for those tight spots that need precise work. For larger tasks, bigger tools can help with efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Disc blades are ideal for cultivating and come in an array of sizes.
  • The Keulavator tills and creates rows at once, for less work for you.

Come to Agri Supply for all your tilling needs
Your first step should be into your neighborhood Agri Supply for tilling time! We not only carry all the needed supplies, but we also bring a wealth of knowledge about the process. Come see us.

Agri Supply. It’s what’s inside.

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