Row by Row Episode 12: When NOT to Use a Tiller in Your Garden

Tilling in the Vegetable Garden: Do’s & Don’ts

On this week’s episode, Greg and Travis talk about using a tiller in the vegetable garden. The guys discuss several situations when it is appropriate to use a tiller, and other situations when it is not appropriate. The popular problem that we find is people tend to overuse the tiller in the garden. It’s not a good idea to use a tiller immediately before planting. This is because tilling introduces many air pockets into the soil which can result in less than ideal seed germination. It’s also not appropriate to till when garden weeds have gone to seed because that will simply bury those seeds where they can remain dormant and germinate later. Finally, tilling should not be done when plants are established because this can cause severe damage to feeder roots. Tillers should not be used as a cultivating tool because they create too much disturbance. Tillers are great tools in certain applications. These include breaking new ground, preparing the ground for root crops, incorporating cover crops into the soil and leveling the ground after hilled crops like corn or potatoes. Greg explains that if you are looking to repair damaged soil he suggests using the tiller once or twice a year only to repair the seedbed in the garden. Lastly, they talk about the different brands of high-quality tillers on the market. Up until 2001, the Troy-Bilt tiller was the top-notch rear tine tiller on the market. But that company experienced a buyout and are no longer the quality they once were. Currently, the top two brands available are the Grillo and BCS tillers, which are both manufactured in Europe. Both are high-quality machines with many different attachments for mowing, plowing, tilling and more!

Show and Tell Segment

On the show and tell segment this week, the guys talk about their squash plants that have been surprisingly successful during the summer heat. Travis mentions that he has two varieties currently growing — Tempest and Patty Pan. He’s been giving lots of attention to these plants to manage the squash bug population. He’s also been applying fungicides twice a week to deal with the excessive rainfall they have been experiencing lately. He alternates between Liquid Copper and Complete Disease Control applications. With fall gardening right around the corner, the tool of the week is our heavy-duty seed starting trays. That works perfectly for transplanting tomatoes, okra, peppers, and watermelons. They also mention the possibility of offering a seed starting kit in the future.

Viewer Questions Segment

On the question and answer segment, the guys answer questions about shade cloth and spraying corn. They mention that they personally don’t use shade cloth in the garden. Instead, they only grow during certain weather windows where success is more likely. Travis explains that he usually waits till the middle of October to plant carrots because the soil temperatures are cooler which means they will have better germination. Greg prefers to spray over the top tassel and let it spread over the corn for earworms. However, it can be hard to spray on some of the taller corn varieties like Jimmy Red. If he can not reach the tops because they are taller he prefers to spray the top of the silks of the corn. Overall, he prefers to go over the top of the corn with a good volume sprayer because of the excellent coverage it applies to the plants. Spraying early and coverage are the two most important factors when it comes to fertilizing the corn in the garden.

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