So, perhaps you’ve just bought a piece of land that you’re planning on growing tons of fruit and veg on. If you learn how to rototill effectively you can increase the production that you get from your plants.
Or, maybe it’s your second year, and you’re looking to up your yield.
Or maybe you’re looking to convert your lawn into a place where carrots, potatoes, and apples can grow, instead of the same square of plain old grass that everyone else on your street has.
Either way, a lack of experience may lead to a lot of mistakes that can spell doom for their plot.
For example, most people won’t be aware that a patch of land usually can’t grow fruit and veg a third or even second time. This can lead to first years that are surprisingly successful, but worse and worse results as the years go by.
If this sounds like you, don’t panic!
This is a normal phenomenon that just takes a little skill and technique to solve. In this guide, we will show you the key skill that can help stop this from happening to your plants: Rototilling.
What Is Rototilling?
If you’re a little green when it comes to growing plants (that is, if you’re a novice at gardening and planting, not if you’ve got green plants on your person), then you may not be familiar with rototilling as a concept, and not know what it, or a rototiller, is.
Don’t worry, everyone needs to start at some point. So allow us to fill you in on this critical garden plot skill!
Rototilling is when you turn the soil of a given piece of land so that plants that you intend to grow can thrive, usually requiring some kind of rototiller device.
It’s an essential step that all farmers and gardeners have to take if they wish to keep growing plants in any given soil for years on end.
What Is A Rototiller?
A rototiller is a machine that uses metal turning blades (sometimes known as tines) that turn the soil of the earth that they are running on.
Not only that, but they will pull up and kill many kinds of weeds and other pest plants that are growing on a lawn, too.
The effect is most dramatic on a garden lawn, where a square of green grass can become lumpy and loamy dirt with a single use.
Depending on the make or model of rototiller that you have, you can dig up anywhere from a few centimeters or inches, to up to a foot in some cases.
Why Rototilling Is Important?
So, why exactly is it important that soil is routinely tilled between growing seasons? Why can’t it simply be left as it is for the next crop that is being grown there?
Essential For Re-Nourishing The Soil
You’ll probably be aware that plants don’t just need water to grow, but a whole host of other nutrients and trace elements to grow at their best. The vast majority of those nutrients will usually come from the soil.
However, these elements are not always an endless supply of plant feed. As a plant absorbs them through its root system, the overall concentration in the soil will drop.
This means that, if you’re planning to grow another crop of plants on the same land, those nutrients won’t be in the soil in nearly enough amounts for the plant to grow right.
This isn’t just bad for the crops that you’re growing, but for the environment too. Fewer nutrients in the soil mean that your next batch of plants will not grow nearly as well as the first, or even grow at all in the first place.
Rototilling is a solution for farmers that allows the soil from the upper layers to mix with the more nutrient-rich layers deeper in the ground, avoiding the problem, and giving your new plants enough nutrients to grow well.
Plus, rototilling is also an excellent way to add mulch and compost to your soil, adding nutrients back into the soil for your next harvest!
Turning Compressed Soil
In the same way that plants have ideal nutrients in the soil that nourish them, they also need specific soil conditions that allow their roots to grow at their best.
As soil is left over time, environmental effects and erosion can cause soil to compact and harden, making it very difficult for young seedlings to anchor themselves in the soil better.
This makes it tricky for them to absorb new nutrients, making the issues that we’ve already talked about even worse
How To Rototill Effectively
So, now that you know what rototilling is, and why it’s important, we can move on to the section that you’re probably here for: How to rototill soil for yourself!
Preparing Your Soil
Before you can even start rototilling, you have to make sure that the conditions are right for the soil to be turned in the first place.
Make sure that you action at least a few of the following suggestions before you start rototilling.
- Make sure that the soil is around 50℉ so that it doesn’t clump too badly by being too cold.
- Spraying the ground with water to moisten it up, and make tilling easier.
- Remove all debris from the ground.
Rototilling Your Soil
With preparation finished, you can finally get to rototilling your earth.
- Set your rototiller tines and bars to around 4 to 6 inches deep. Avoid going any deeper if you can, to avoid soil erosion.
- Cover the lawn in whatever fertilizer or mulch/compost you are using, at least 2 inches.
- Start tilling the soil! Do not leave any gaps between the rows that you are tilling, and leave no corner or thin line of untouched soil unturned.
- If your garden is smaller than 3 to 6 feet long and wide, you may want to consider manually tilling instead.
- Make sure to till the soil in multiple directions, to get a nice even spread of turned soil across the whole area.
- Once all the soil has been tilled, level it all out with a rake, while also breaking apart larger chunks of soil that are still there.
Can Rototilling Be Bad For The Environment?
In a world that is seeing the growing damage that intense industry can have on the planet, there is also a growing number of people that are concerned that rototilling, at least in giant field-sized areas, could have long-term negative effects on the environment and land around it.
So, is the same true for your smaller patch of soil in your allotment or garden?
Certainly, the effects of deep rototilling on an industrial scale have been shown to have some awful side effects.
Breaking up the soil composition that has existed in fields for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, can cause the overall structure of soil to fall apart and become unusable for growing.
Rather than the clumpy soil that you’re used to, it becomes grainy and sandy, both unable to hold nutrients, and more susceptible to erosion.
This can even happen at a smaller scale if you are rototilling too deep and too often.
If you only rototill when you have to, you should be able to avoid the worst effects in your garden, but it’s a decision that you shouldn’t make lightly.
There you have it. Now, you should have a nice new, fresh layer of soil to start planting on.
Whether you’re rejuvenating your allotment plot, turning a part of your garden into allotment land, or even getting a new garden ready on fresh soil, these instructions should be all you need.
Oh, and a rototiller, of course!