How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?

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brownp

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How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« on: April 28, 2010, 20:56 »
Hi
I am a first timer... my allotment is heavy clay and has been grass/weeds.
I have taken the top off, the dug the soil and turned it over.
I have then raked it a couple of times. I have just received a mantis tiller as a gift and have used this also. The problem is that my soil still isn't fine like others I see around - ie fine enough to plant seeds etc. Do I need to use a sieve...or continue to break it down with the mantis?
 

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blackbob

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2010, 21:05 »
Hi
I am a first timer... my allotment is heavy clay and has been grass/weeds.
I have taken the top off, the dug the soil and turned it over.
I have then raked it a couple of times. I have just received a mantis tiller as a gift and have used this also. The problem is that my soil still isn't fine like others I see around - ie fine enough to plant seeds etc. Do I need to use a sieve...or continue to break it down with the mantis?
 

get a draw hoe and drag out the seed drills with it.your going to need lots of compost to get them started this year.
but come the back end and a good 6" application of manure for the worms top work on,you'll then end up with a more friable soil to work with.

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digalotty

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2010, 21:15 »
you could rake a channel out plant seeds and use a bag of compost to fill the top in, that way you can see where you put the seeds as well
when im with my 9yr old she's the sensible one

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brownp

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2010, 21:21 »
aaaahhhh....are you saying to leave the bed a bit rough but use compost etc to improve just the bits where the seeds are going in?

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blackbob

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2010, 21:29 »
aaaahhhh....are you saying to leave the bed a bit rough but use compost etc to improve just the bits where the seeds are going in?

yip drag your shallow trenches out with a draw hoe,fill the trench with MP compost ad use it as your growing medium.
but make sure you get plenty manure on the plot by early winter.just leave it on top until early spring.the worms and weathering will get it down into where it's required.

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brownp

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2010, 21:30 »
thanks for that blackbob - makes sense

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blackbob

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2010, 21:31 »
thanks for that blackbob - makes sense

sometimes it's hard to explain things in a sensible way :D

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Loubs

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2010, 22:04 »
Ahhh,  I have neighboring plot fine tilth envy also.  But I'm a stubborn old so-and-so, so just trying things out in my first year, and decided long ago that I'd get way more ambitious next year.

I'm using the "add more compost" route this year.

I find it best not to look too closely at what the more experienced plot-holders are up to, otherwise I'm just constantly flagellating myself for getting it utterly wrong. Still, as one of my neighbours (who's been there for donkeys years) says, he's learnt to keep a keen eye on enthusiastic newbies who look like they might stay the distance, as they often teach him new tricks.

So now I like to kid myself that every time I get it a bit wrong it's just an experimental new trick that may or may not work.  :unsure:

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blackbob

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2010, 22:24 »
Ahhh,  I have neighboring plot fine tilth envy also.  But I'm a stubborn old so-and-so, so just trying things out in my first year, and decided long ago that I'd get way more ambitious next year.

I'm using the "add more compost" route this year.

I find it best not to look too closely at what the more experienced plot-holders are up to, otherwise I'm just constantly flagellating myself for getting it utterly wrong. Still, as one of my neighbours (who's been there for donkeys years) says, he's learnt to keep a keen eye on enthusiastic newbies who look like they might stay the distance, as they often teach him new tricks.

So now I like to kid myself that every time I get it a bit wrong it's just an experimental new trick that may or may not work.  :unsure:

lol not a bad way of looking at things ;)

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Ivah

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2010, 23:20 »
Easier to use plants - not so fussy about tilth - instead of putting compost in drills put it in modules. Just growing something breaks the soil down so year by year it gets better - how many years has it taken your neighbour to get it fine?
'Nullius in verba' - 'Take nobody's word for it'

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blackbob

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2010, 23:29 »
Easier to use plants - not so fussy about tilth - instead of putting compost in drills put it in modules. Just growing something breaks the soil down so year by year it gets better - how many years has it taken your neighbour to get it fine?

it only gets better if you add humus.no magic bottle tricks for poor soil structure.

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Kristen

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2010, 08:56 »
I'm in the "grow plants and plant out camp", but before that I used to make fine tilth on heavy clay by digging in the Autumn (which I realise is no help for you now!) and leaving rough for the frost to break it down - then carefully, so as not to undo the good done by the frost, raking it in the Spring.

next up was to wear wellies and walk down the bed shuffling my feet, then rake.  This needs doing several times, and timing it just right after some rain - soil still a bit moist, but not sticking-to-your-boots moist - means that the soil crumbles well.

Planting stations, or drills of really-nice-compost is a good approach - it will give the seedlings a flying start, and will add compost to the bed, over time.

Get as much well rotted manure onto the bed as you can (not the area for Carrots / Parsnips) in the Autumn and in a couple of years you'll be surprised how quickly it improves.

Raised beds is often recommended for clay. If you designate areas about 4' wide for "beds" and then "paths" in between and never walk on the beds (other than to dig them, and to make a tilth if you have to) that will help. (I dug the soil from my "paths" and heaped it on my "beds" to make Lazy Raised Beds)
« Last Edit: April 29, 2010, 09:03 by Kristen »

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Pompey Spud

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2010, 09:00 »
Can't see what the fuss is about adding compost for seed drills etc imho. Too much hassle.

You need to rake harder and use the tiller more effectively. :)

I have a clay based soil and can get friable soil without the mantis but a push pull tiller. You should see my arms lol.

Plant a green manure to overwinter for the humus rather than spending money on compost.

And it is so much easier to plant out plants. Stronger and less susceptible to slug attack damage etc but than it all depends on what you are intending to grow.

We're all different.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2010, 09:03 by Pompey Spud »
Top tip for camping....don't go.

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chimaera

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2010, 10:03 »
To be honest, I think some of the people who are advising to make a seed drill with a hoe have forgotten what near virgin clay soil is like; I have been working some very hard, with about 60 large barrows of compost on the plot, for 3 years and still a tilth is anything where blocks are less than fist size. On my plot, a small tiller is useless unless the ground has already been hand dug, and if the moisture in the soils is not right a tiller just balls the clay into lumps if too wet or bounces off the blocks if too dry but get it just right and it works wonders. Otherwise to sow seed I dig by hand, let it dry to a rubble, wet it with a hose and wait a couple of hours for the water to soak in and start to defloculate the clay, and then break the surface up with a dutch weeding hoe. Only then am I able to make a drill.
BUT, with the exception of a few fussy types and root veg, most plants seem completely happy in the clay once planted, some (beans, squashes, brassicas) growing so well I think they like the stickyness.

Charlie

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Kristen

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Re: How do I break soil down to a fine tilth? Mantis?
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2010, 10:37 »
"I think some of the people who are advising to make a seed drill with a hoe have forgotten what near virgin clay soil is like;"

I agree



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