Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

No till gains more ground




John Aeschliman turns over a shovelful of topsoil on his 4,000-acre farm in the Palouse region of eastern Washington State. The black earth crumbles easily, revealing a porous structure and an abundance of organic matter that facilitate root growth. Loads of earthworms are visible, too—another healthy sign.

Thirty-four years ago only a few earthworms, if any, could be found in a spadeful of his soil. Back then, Aeschliman would plow the fields before each planting, burying the residues from the previous crop and readying the ground for the next one. . . .[ read more No-Till How farmers are saving the soil by parking their plows]

There is mounting evidence that tilling not only exposes weeds to much needed light but disturbs the soil in deeper and more profound ways. Not till increases organic matter in the soil and conserves soil bacteria.

Do a bit of research before turning the soil over in the vegetable bed next year. Or just consider how much better undisturbed soil you run across is from soil that has been worked.