Saturday, March 20, 2010

around the homestead-tilling/ working up garden beds

Yesterday the manthing spent most of his day tilling up garden beds. We can't use a regular tiller in many of the terraced beds here but on the conventional beds we can with a little bit of wrestling, brute strength and bronc riding skills. We now have all but the tobacco bed in the holler tilled and two small beds finished and ready for adding nutrients and then planting.

We only have three flat land beds here on the property, the rest we pretend that they are  and  where we can we try to  maneuver "the beast" through the beds. In some of them it means that you are continually tilling at a peculiar and might I add rather dangerous angle. On a regular basis we break the bolts off that hold the tires on, no worries though as  we got smart and bought a dozen extras. At all times one has to hold the tiller either back to keep it from  pulling you down the hillside or pushing it up with all you might to keep it on the hill so that it doesn't  slide backwards and till you up, it really is a FUN chore around here. Thankfully it only happens a couple times a year  and we have never had anyone turned into instant compost.


The remainder of the beds (somewhere around 20)  all need to be double dug each season to get them into planting condition. The longer those beds are around the easier it gets to  dig them up, but building  them and the first couple years of using them, they are a BIG chore. Unfortunately  as we get older and our bodies hurt  after a good day of working in the gardens  we are learning that we need to start thinking about 10 years down the line and how we will do things.  A couple weeks ago when we first started working on the beds, I made mention to  several how I would love a mini  cultivator. Low and behold as per usual, when one puts a  true need out to the universe the universe provides. Our best  friend has just bought a little mantis tiller. We will share the big tiller and the mantis between the two homesteads as he only needs the larger one  twice a season and we only need the tiny one two to three times a year. It should work out very nicely between the two places  and make our job much much easier


  1. Oh, you will love the mantis! I have used my sister's several times and love how easy it is for an old woman to use.

    As for double-digging yearly, why? Us old hippies learned that double-digging is usually only needed if you have a perched watertable or you have heavy clay that your tiller has 'polished' so the roots can't penetrate.
    Even then, you only need to do so every five to ten years. Spare your bodies, they do wear out (I know about that, my hips are flaring up today and walking is a real chore.)

    Love your blog. It's so earthy ;)


  2. thankyou,,

    most of the terraces and raised beds are only a couple years old and yes our clay is terrible to get in shape.. i have noticed they are much easier this season than last and it should be the last year of double digging them,,, unfortunately i think we will need to build a few more beds yet in the near future..

    Great on the mantis,,, i have hip n knee problems that I have to really watch as i age,,, and that is exactly the reason we put the need out to the universe,,,