To dig or not to dig? That is the question
"Why is digging harmful? - many gardeners will ask. - After all, everyone is digging, and even twice a season: in the spring they dig, in the fall they dig again. And if the earth is solid clay or virgin soil, how can you not dig it!"
Let's first figure it out: why is it harmful to dig? There are at least four reasons why this should not be done.
The first is as follows: we are used to thinking of the earth as inorganic matter, that is, inanimate, and we treat it accordingly. And the soil is a very complex living organism with its own hierarchical structure, its own laws of community. It is densely populated with microorganisms and lower animal organisms such as earthworms. In the upper soil layer, at a depth of about 5-15 cm, the soil is inhabited by micro-fungi and aerobic bacteria, that is, those lower organisms that need oxygen for their existence. In addition, earthworms have chosen this layer.
In the lower layer, approximately at a depth of 20-25 cm, there are anaerobic bacteria, for which oxygen is harmful, they need carbon dioxide. When digging the soil to the depth of a shovel bayonet, turning the layer over, we swap these layers, and each type of microorganism finds itself in an unfavorable environment for itself. Most of them die in this case.
It takes at least two to five years to restore a broken hierarchy. The soil, devoid of microorganisms, becomes dead, loses fertility, since this very fertility of the soil is created and maintained by microorganisms and earthworms inhabiting the earth. And no amount of fertilization will help here until its population is restored on every floor.
In addition, the soil, losing its inhabitants, loses its structure along with them, and therefore collapses. This soil is washed away by the rains and carried away by the winds. Outstanding soil scientists, such as A.T. Bolotov in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, I.E. Osievsky in the middle of the 19th century, finally, V.V.Dokuchaev - at the end of the 19th century, they opposed deep plowing of the land with the overturning of the layer.
Also, the soil cannot be strongly compacted as it happens when using heavy equipment (remember, at least the monster tractor "Kirovets"), since excessive compaction of the soil layers also leads to the death of soil microorganisms.
You probably have your own experience here. Recall, for example, how, when you were planning to build a house, you removed the fertile layer of soil from the building site and piled it up in a large pile. And then, deciding to use it in the garden and in the beds, you suddenly discovered that for some reason it became sterile, although you were piling up, mainly, sod.
But the tradition of digging the soil is very tenacious. Therefore, now we have almost completely ruined the most fertile lands on the entire planet and an inexorable decline in soil fertility, and, accordingly, a drop in yield from each square meter of cultivated area. And at the same time, the population of the Earth is growing steadily. So it turns out that if humanity does not come to its senses in time, then it will inevitably face death from hunger.
You and I cannot enlighten the whole of humanity, but on our own plots we are quite capable of suspending destructive agriculture and restoring the lost (more precisely, never existed in our plots) soil fertility. First, stop digging, and twice a year!
Recently, in the literature, more and more often there are serious and not very work in defense of this call. We must pay tribute to at least a few people who have done a lot for our enlightenment on this issue. I mean the American Alan Chadwick and his follower John Jevons, the founders of the biodynamic school of agriculture, as well as our scientists Yu.I. Slashchinin, N.I. Kurdyumov and A.A. Komarov.
How do our greatest helpers, the inhabitants of the soil, live and act? For their prosperous existence, organic matter is necessary, that is, all kinds of organic remains of dead plants and dead animals. It is their bacteria that "eat" for breakfast, lunch and dinner without a break in between. That is, while they live, they continuously feed and reproduce by simple cell division. And they live only about half an hour. Such a short, but very intense life goes on in the arable layer, which is only 20-25 cm thick. And this layer is quite enough for the growth and development of most plants on Earth. Our task is to help microorganisms (or not interfere with them, at least) to make this layer fertile.
What does it mean? And this means that in such a layer there should be at least 4% (or better 6%) humus. The soil, rich in humus, does not cake, does not compact, it does not need to be dug, it is enough to loosen it.
The second reason is as follows. When digging the soil, we break all the microchannels through which moisture and air penetrate into the arable layer. As a result, moisture and air do not enter the zone of sucking roots, and normal plant nutrition is disrupted. Usually, such soil becomes viscous during rains, like plasticine, and after drying it turns into "reinforced concrete". The roots there suffocate, the plant weakens. What kind of harvest there can be. Plants "have no time for fat, I would live."
How are these microchannels formed in the soil?
The fact is that the root system of plants is huge. It not only can go down to 2-5 m (in beets, for example, the central root sometimes penetrates to a depth of 3-4 meters), but also branches in all directions. And each of these roots is covered with hundreds of thousands of sucking hairs, the total length of which can reach 10 km!
As a result, every inch of the earth is literally riddled with these hairs. When the aerial part of the plant dies off, the remnants of the roots begin to eat up the soil microorganisms. As a result, microscopic channels are formed, through which moisture penetrates, and after it is absorbed by the soil, air rushes into the soil through the channels. In addition, there are passages that worms make in the soil. And they also serve as channels for water and air, only larger. Through all these passages, the roots of the next generation of plants easily penetrate deep into the soil.
We are strongly advised to do the autumn digging of the soil in order to destroy the pests that have settled down to winter in the surface layer of the soil, as well as so that moisture penetrates between the clods, freezes and expands the passages for spring water and air, which will rush into the soil layer through these cracks. Yes, of course, some of the pests die, but we completely disrupt the complex system of water and air exchange, replacing it with several large cracks. In the spring, with repeated digging, we finally destroy the channels created by roots and bacteria. With such double shoveling, this entire complex system is destroyed, and the soil is compacted so much that it has to be literally hollowed out.
The third reason not to dig and plow is very simple. During the autumn digging, we transfer all the seeds of weeds from the soil surface to the depths, where they remain until spring. And with repeated digging in the spring, we bring the overwintered weed seeds to the surface, and they immediately begin to germinate.
And the fourth reason why the soil should not be dug up is that usually after that we leave its surface "bare", and this leads to the destruction of the topmost layer. In addition, "a holy place is never empty," and weeds will immediately begin to take their place under the sun. The soil must not be left bare. It should not be dug up, but covered from above with any mulching material. The easiest way is to do as nature does, covering the earth with organic debris. In autumn - fallen leaves and aerial parts of dead annuals. In the spring - young green shoots.
Why is she doing this? In the first case, to return the organic matter consumed by plants to the soil. In the second - to cover the surface from direct sunlight, to protect the top layer from drying out and destruction.
So, the earth is a living organism, and it is impossible to meddle in its life thoughtlessly and with impunity. Soil fertility is created by the indigenous inhabitants of the earth.
What to do?
Like what! Of course, grow, groom, cherish the inhabitants of the soil and loosen, only loosen the soil so as not to harm them!
Humus is the most valuable component of any soil. It is what earthworms and soil microorganisms create. Therefore, a completely reliable indicator of fertility is the number of earthworms living in it. The more there are, the more fertile the soil. The more humus, the darker the color of the soil.
Humus is a complex organo-mineral formation. Its main part is humic acids and fulvates. Humic acids "glue" like synthetic glue the smallest lumps of soil into aggregates that do not stick together. Thus, a soil structure is created in which water and air can easily penetrate into the soil between these aggregates. Fulvates carry a negative electrostatic charge on their surface and attract positively charged ions of chemical elements in the soil solution (in particular, nitrogen). That is, they contribute to the saturation of the soil with minerals.
One square meter of soil 25 cm thick (topsoil) weighs about 250 kg. If the humus in the soil is about 4%, then these 250 kg contain only 10 kg. During the season, the roots of plants destroy about 200 g of humus from each square meter of the arable layer. To restore it, you will need to annually bring in a bucket (5 kg) of humus per meter of soil surface. If, instead of humus, a green mass of green manure, weeds, grass, leaves or other not rotted organic matter is introduced, then their number should be increased threefold.
The question arises: Should organic matter be applied to the top soil layer or the bottom layer? It is economically more expedient to enter into the lower one. That is, to build up the fertile soil layer from below. At the depth of the bayonet of the shovel, humus is formed 6 times more than in the upper layer, with the same amount of organic matter introduced. But digging is allowed only in a layer of 5 cm! How to be?
If your soil is very poor (gray color indicates that there is only 2% humus in the soil), then the first digging should be done as follows.
Mark the garden bed. To avoid trampling the soil, lay a plank across the bed, pushing it away from the edge a width of four shovel bayonets. While standing on the board, remove the soil and stack it near the end of the bed. Loosen the bottom layer with a pitchfork. Fill the dug trench with green mass and move the board further.
Now the soil removed from the next trench, without turning it over, is folded onto the green mass. Loosen the bottom layer in the second trench with a pitchfork, put the green mass into it, move the board even further and continue this way until the end of the garden bed.
When the last trench is filled with green mass, transfer to it the soil that was taken out of the very first trench and folded near the end of the bed. The most important thing in this kind of digging is not to turn the soil.
In all subsequent years, you will apply the green mass of weeds or sawdust, leaves and other organic matter to the surface of the garden. Then it will need to be lightly sprinkled with earth or dug up along with the top layer of soil to a depth of no more than 5 cm.This work is best done in late summer or early autumn, so that by spring most of the organic matter has time to rot.
G. Kizima, gardener
Fertile soil is the key to a good harvest without regular fertilizing
An important rule of the gardener is: "The earth must work." Not only does the soil nourish crops, they also saturate it with essential trace elements, contribute to the enrichment of vitamins. After an early harvest, it is worth planting greens, radishes or salad in the vacant space.
A lazy vegetable garden needs fertile soil. To improve its composition, cover the area with mulch for the winter. For this, the tops of vegetable crops, straw, autumn foliage are suitable. Also, after harvesting, you can sow the area with peas or buckwheat. Young seedlings will "go under the snow", and in spring they will serve as good nutrition for the soil.
Growing green manure helps fertilize the soil and provide all the necessary elements
The most interesting thing is that the fertile soil does not require careful digging. After mulching, or podzimny sowing, only surface loosening is needed, which will significantly save time in the spring. For work, you can use an aerator, hand hoe, or flat cutter. Sufficient digging depth: 5-7 centimeters.
A well-organized garden and vegetable garden for the lazy does not require much work or time from you. Having once planted perennial flowers and shrubs, you will get a beautiful and special area, and the annual planting of unpretentious garden crops on fertile soil will not take much time, but it will reward you with a good harvest of fresh vegetables.
How to grow a large crop of parsley
Growing a good harvest of parsley is not as easy as it seems at first glance. You need to know at least minimal knowledge about the agricultural technology of its cultivation.
Parsley is of two types: leaf and root. Already from the name it is clear what and what goes into food. People grow curly parsley less often. It gives less yield, and its roots are bitter. But root parsley, with proper care, will delight you with its greens for many months, in which there are a lot of useful substances. And its roots serve as an excellent dressing for soups. They are very nutritious and delicious.
Do not be late to plant at least one bed of parsley on your site, it is cold-resistant, and you can safely plant it right after the snow cover has melted. Parsley loves loose and moist soil. When dry and without weeding, its roots will be weak and can quickly die.
Where to plant parsley?
Where you have grown onions or cabbage, tomatoes or cucumbers last year.
How to prepare parsley seeds for planting?
Soak them for a day in a weak solution of potassium permanganate, or an even easier option for quick shoots: soaking parsley seeds for three hours in milk, and then hold it for a couple of hours in a pink solution of potassium permanganate. We don't know why, but this method really works.
You can safely plant dry parsley seeds directly from the bag. In this case, they will simply rise a week later than the soaked ones.
How to ensure yourself with a consistent parsley harvest?
Sow parsley every couple of weeks until late autumn. Then you will always have fresh parsley on the table, and freeze and dry it for the winter.
How to feed parsley?
Any organic and mineral fertilizers will do. In the spring, it is good to feed her with urea and ammonium nitrate.
How to plant parsley?
Make shallow grooves 2 cm apart, 15 cm apart. Sprinkle some fine quicklime in them. Fill in the seeds and gently compact the soil with your hands (not with a hoe). Seedlings should appear within 10 days.
These are the basic wisdom, the knowledge of which will allow you to get an extraordinary harvest of parsley, even in a small garden. The only thing left to do was to buy seeds and get to work.
How to grow a high yield of potatoes?
You can plant potatoes not only in the ground, but also under straw
Potatoes is an important food on any table, which is why it is called "Second bread". People who have even a small piece of land try grow potatoes yourself... And in order to get it good, tasty and high yields, the best potato seeds are needed, harvested in the fall. People select potato tubers from the bushes of their best harvest, about 4-5 centimeters in size. As a rule, for higher yields, potatoes need to be selected larger for planting.
IN sprouted eyes or cut potatoes can be used as seeds... To get a good harvest, before planting the cut potatoes, you need to dry it in the sun, sprinkle it with ash. As soon as warm and preferably humid weather sets in, the tubers can be planted. If sowing in rainy, cold weather, there is a chance that the potatoes will rot or be very weak.
Preparing the soil for planting
After the autumn harvest, you need to prepare the land for next year, fertilize the soil. You can do this with manure or buy ready-made humus. Fertilizer must be scattered throughout the garden and left until spring. As soon as the manure thaws, the garden must be dug up, then take a rake and level the ground. You can fertilize the soil once every two seasons, so that after digging, the fertilizer will rot in the ground.
If in the fall it was not possible to fertilize the soil, then you can do this in the spring, but you need to take manure already rotted so that the plant does not burn out. Poultry manure is also suitable as a fertilizer, it is fast-acting and has a high concentration. Pigeon droppings are the most concentrated, followed by chicken, goose and duck droppings. But if used incorrectly, it can cause harm to plants. If the soil has not been fertilized at all, then a little manure can be placed under each bush.
To make the potatoes grow faster, you can put them in a box 3-4 weeks before planting, you can first rinse with a diluted solution of potassium permanganate and bring it into the house or any other room that is sufficiently lit and warm. The tubers will sprout, they must be moistened (sprayed with water or ash, mineral fertilizers) and turned over periodically. During this time, the potatoes will ripen and be ready for planting. If you germinate the tubers in a dark place, then long shoots will grow, they will be much weaker. The most optimal sprout length is one centimeter.
Tillage and harvest
For more convenient and high-quality hilling of the earth, potatoes must be planted at a distance of 80 centimeters between rows and 35 centimeters between beds. Tubers need to be laid at the same depth, the most optimal for planting potatoes is 7-10 centimeters, then sprinkle with earth.
For high yields, the land periodically needs to be loosened, hilled, watered, and also weeded from weeds. When to start spilling potatoes, everyone decides for himself, but, as a rule, if the tops have reached about 20-30 centimeters, it is possible earlier. Once you decide that the given size of potatoes suits, then you can start digging out the tubers.
Planting potatoes under straw
You can plant potatoes not only in the ground, but also under straw. This method is just as effective and high-yielding. There are a number of positive aspects and features of this method:
- Having planted the tubers under the straw, the soil does not need to be watered, hilled or weeded.
- An excellent means for enriching the soil is compost, which is obtained as a result of straw rotting, that is, the soil receives the necessary fertilization. It is also a great bait for earthworms.
- Harvesting quickly and easily by moving the straw to the side.
- Before planting potatoes, you do not need to dig up the soil.
- If there is no straw, then you can take hay, the result will be the same.
Preparing for planting under straw
Required to prepare the soil. To lay potatoes, you need to make trenches 5-8 centimeters deep and try to loosen them without lumps. As mentioned above, you do not need to dig up the earth and fertilize it is optional, but if you really want to, you can.
Particular attention must be paid to the preparation of tubers. Take the required amount of potatoes, put them in a box, bring them into the room and dry them for 6-7 days at a temperature of about 20 degrees, then transfer them to another room, the room temperature of which should be about 10 degrees and leave before landing on the ground. To avoid eating the tubers with slugs, it is recommended to roll the potatoes in ash.
How to plant potatoes under straw
Pour some ash into the prepared trenches, and put potato tubers at a distance of 30-40 centimeters. Cover it with a small layer of straw and sprinkle it lightly with earth to prevent it from being blown away by the wind.
All is ready! We are waiting for autumn and harvesting.
Development of virgin lands: arrangement of beds
Well, the pegs were driven in, the beds were marked. Now it's time to tackle them closely. The main task in the development of virgin lands is to destroy weeds. They are perennials with deep roots, and their seeds are scattered throughout the area. The most optimal way to deal with them is to darken. Therefore, no matter what type of beds you have planned - flat on the ground, boxes or trenches - the soil must be isolated from light. This will prevent the roots and weed seeds from germinating. As a rule, for such a purpose, the place under the bed is covered with 3-5 balls of newspaper or cardboard, or with a black film that does not allow light to pass through.
Option one... In the event that there is no rush, we forget about the covered garden for the whole season. Cardboard or film will enhance the activity of soil microorganisms and worms, and the lack of light will lead to the death of most of the weed roots. In the future, they will become a good fertilizer. Of course, it will not do without particularly stubborn representatives of the weed kingdom - they will reach for the light, and they will find passages between the beds. This is where a scythe should be kept at the ready. She regularly, before flowering, needs to mow the grass. In the fall, we sow the garden with green manure, and in the spring we pull out a couple of "malicious" weeds with a pitchfork and plant vegetables.
Many experienced gardeners advise sowing rye on virgin soil as green manure - it suppresses weeds well and structures the soil. Moreover, the plants do not need to be buried in the future. The upper part is simply mown and used for mulching, and the roots are left to rot in the ground.
Option two. When in the first year you want to plant or sow something, then layers of cardboard or newspapers should be covered with a thick ball of mulching materials. It can be compost, sod land, rotted manure, algae, humus.
The height of this layer should be at least 10 cm. Already this year, seedlings of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, pumpkins can be placed on such a bed. The sequence of actions is as follows: we rake the mulching ball and pierce all the layers of cardboard with something sharp, making a small hole. Through it, the roots stretch inward. We put the seedlings in a peat or paper container over the hole, add a little earth around it, and cover with mulch. Watering. After a few weeks, we mulch the planting with light material. To do this, you can take straw, husks from seeds, cut grass, leaves, sawdust. The height of this layer is half a shovel bayonet. Our garden bed, mulched in this way, will feel great without additional watering (if the weather is not hot), and without top dressing.
With the arrival of autumn, mulch is either sprinkled on top of the garden, or sown with siderates. It is important not to disturb the soil, weed seeds are still alive there. Let them sit in it, and every year we will simply add organic matter on top to form a new fertile soil layer.
Do not be afraid of virgin lands, master them competently, make the most of their rich reserves, and in this case the garden will become a real breadwinner for you and your family for many years.
Features of planting tubers
After the rows are ready, the planting tubers are laid out at the bottom of the grooves at a distance of twenty centimeters from each other (for early potatoes) or twenty-five centimeters (for later varieties). The potato sprouts should be facing downwards. Tubers planted in this way produce unheated tops. The subsequent care of plants is facilitated, and the risk of late blight is noticeably reduced.
After all the planting material is laid out in rows, it is covered with humus or semi-rotten manure up to the top of the grooves. Potatoes love nutritious and light soil, so organic fertilizer takes about a ton or more per hundred square meters.
How to get a high yield of cucumbers without a greenhouse
You can get an excellent harvest of cucumbers by growing them outdoors.
This is achieved only if the requests and preferences of the cucumber are taken into account.
Heat, light and moisture - this is without which you will not get a rich harvest of cucumbers.
Warm soil and warm air. Warm soil can be obtained by creating a warm bed. They create it in the fall. At the intended place of the cucumber bed, first large branches are laid in layers, then smaller ones, then paper, then sawdust, straw, fresh manure, the last layer of earth is poured.
10 days before planting cucumbers, the garden is poured with boiling water and covered with black film. The edges are secured tightly.
The process of overheating begins under the film, the substrate heats up, diseases and overwintering insects are destroyed in it. By the time the seedlings are planted in the ground, its temperature drops to 20-23 degrees. Warmth is provided to the roots.
The root system of the cucumber lash is weak; moist, loose, nutritious soil can ensure its normal operation.
You can get an early harvest if you grow seedlings... To obtain seedlings, disinfected and germinated seeds are sown in separate containers. The seedlings planted in peat cups are transplanted into the garden bed together with the cups.
When several true leaves appear on the seedlings, they are transferred to the open air. It is recommended to cover the seedlings planted in the garden with a film or plastic bottles.
The air temperature required for cucumbers is no more than 25-27 degrees. It reaches such values after May 10. At this time, they begin to transfer seedlings to open beds. In Central Russia, the threat of frost remains until the beginning of June, the planted seedlings by this time will not yet grow large, and it will not be difficult to protect it from bad weather.
When it becomes clear that frosts are not expected, we install trellises for tying cucumber lashes. By this time, they will already grow to the required size. As a support, you can fix stakes along the edges of the bed, and lay a crossbar between them.
A peg is driven in near each bush, to which a rope is tied, to which a cucumber whip will cling. The ropes can be replaced with parts from nylon tights. The supports are soft, durable and elastic.
Shine. A large harvest of cucumbers can only be harvested if the plants are well lit. Even a little shading will significantly reduce the yield. To protect the cucumber beds from the wind, tall plants are planted on both sides of it - corn or sunflowers. One condition is that these protective stripes should not obscure the cucumber plantings.
A bountiful harvest of cucumbers cannot be harvested without proper shaping.... It must be done for plants both outdoors and in the greenhouse. The formation of varietal plants differs from the formation of hybrid ones. On varietal plants, the crop is formed on lateral shoots, and on hybrid plants, on the central stem.
Further care of plants comes down to abundant watering, regular feeding, loosening the soil and fighting pests - diseases.
Watered at least three times a week with water heated in the sun by watering at the root. Top dressing is applied once every 2 weeks. Organic fertilizers such as slurry or infusion of onion peels are used as top dressing.
The timely collection of fruits has a great influence on the size of the harvest. Ripe vegetables are picked carefully, without damaging the whips, leaves. Leaving overgrown and diseased fruits on the stem is not recommended - this slows down the growth and development of normal greens.
The best fruits can be harvested in the morning. During the night, the ovaries grow faster, by the morning they remain dense and juicy. Cucumbers harvested during the day often taste bitter and quickly lose their density. Cucumbers can also be bitter due to a violation of the irrigation regime, unsuitable soil, and frequent weather changes.