Some farmers and gardeners usually rototill every year out of habit or tradition. Most of the time, they think it’s necessary or the right thing to do in order to cultivate the soil and prepare it for planting. Others, on the other hand, avoid rototilling as much as possible, thinking that it might disturb the soil structure that is already enough to keep their plants grow and prosper.
Nevertheless, for people who are not as experienced, it is a little hard to determine when to actually rototill a garden. And while we can give you a direct and straightforward answer, understanding rototilling better will help you determine when your garden actually needs it.
Benefits of Rototilling
Rototilling, in a way, is a method of turning up the soil to prepare it before you plant. It’s also an efficient way to distribute and mix fertilizer to the soil. According to researchers from Colorado State University Extension, regular tilling can even improve the soil structure in your garden.
Rototilling offers an advantage especially during fall to efficiently utilize organic compost and use it topdress your soil in preparation for planting season. So to sum it all up, rototilling can greatly benefit the soil and your plants through improving the soil condition, structure, and nutrient content.
Disadvantages of Rototilling
Unfortunately, rototilling can also cause disruption in the current soil structure that you have. Plant roots need air spaces to grow, but tilling too much can close spaces and gaps in the soil. Moreover, a farm columnist even claims that it can sometimes deplete the soil’s nutrients. We know it’s odd especially since the aim of rototilling is the other way around. However, this usually happens when rototilling disturbs worms burrowed in the soil by bringing them up to the surface. Needless to say, these worms will eventually die when disrupted and brought to the surface, this can eventually disrupt the system within the soil. After all, worms play a vital role in supplying nutrients to the soil and aerating it from time to time.
In addition to this, rototilling too early in the season before the temperature of the soil warms up can leave the soil compacted. As a result, watering can be ineffective to the soil come summertime.
So with all this in consideration, should rototilling still be done?
However, you should also make sure that you are doing it for good reasons. If done correctly, rototilling can improve the soil for yielding better crops and plants come planting season. But, of course, it can be a little tricky to know if you should do it or when to do it.
This is why we have prepared a complete guide to help you determine if rototilling your garden is a good decision.
Why do you want to rototill?
If you want to rototill because this is the first time you are planting in your garden, it just might be a good idea. Soil that has not been touched before may need a lot of preparation. Rototilling will help loosen up the soil to aerate it. You can also throw in some fertilizer to have your soil ready for planting.
Using best rototiller for large garden is also a good way to get rid of weeds. Needless to say, it’s a good weed control method that can help you rid your garden with annual weed. However, you have to be careful. Using rototilling to get rid of perennial weeds can do the opposite. It may result in an increase in a number of the perennial weeds. So instead of rototilling, it’s best to use another method for weed control. Consider using a hoe or your hands to turn the weeds under. Using newspaper on top of the soil can also help discourage the growth of many weeds. But if you are still planning to control weeds by using a rototiller, make sure to apply herbicide if you think it’s necessary.
Has your soil been tested?
One of the most crucial part before rototilling is to have your soil tested. Make sure to test your soil before deciding on anything. Once you have the results, you’ll know how to prepare your soil properly. If your soil tests indicate that it needs fertilizer or lime, rototilling is one way to do that. You will have to rototill to a depth of 8 to 10 inches to make the necessary amendments.
But if your soil is too wet, it is highly inadvisable to rototill your garden. Rototilling wet soil can ruin the soil structure of your garden. Furthermore, it can also cause soil compaction. This can prove fatal to your plants. Without soil aeration, your plants will have difficulties in absorbing water and nutrients, resulting in their timely demise.
A little trick to know if your soil is dry enough to work on is through testing it out. To determine the moisture level of your soil, simply roll a handful of it into a ball. Bounce it off of your hand. If the soil compactly sticks together, it is too wet for rototilling. But if it crumbles with a little pressure from your fingertips, it is dry enough to be worked on by your rototiller. Remember that this plays an important factor in rototilling especially if your soil contains clay, best tiller for clay soil 2019 clay since they are more prone to compaction.
Are your seeds already planted?
Be very careful tilling if you have already planted your garden. You won’t want to disturb plant roots with your rototiller. If you have decided to pursue rototilling even after you have already planted, we recommend that you only rototill to a depth of 2 inches below the soil’s surface. This is highly inadvisable though. After all, it can result in uprooting several plants that you have already planted. For best results, rototilling is recommended to be done before you start planting on your garden.
Remember: When it comes to deciding when and how to rototill your garden, what you really must consider is if you actually need to till it. If your soil test returns with results that are favorable for planting, it’s best not to rototill your garden anymore.