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New garden, looking for feedback


 
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blackd
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:16 am    Post subject: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I live in southwestern Michigan and am new to gardening. I have inherited a tractor and want to use it to get a garden going in my back yard, approximately 50 ft x 70 ft. I don't have much experience using a tractor and implements, so I was hoping that you guys could help me out.

My soil conditions are such that I have 18" of clayish soil on top of 7' of sand and gravel, and then the water table. The surface gets clumpy when saturated and hard when dried. I plan to amend the garden area by mixing in some sand and composted materials consisting of roughly a 60:40 blend of browns to greens (yard leaves and kitchen scraps). I haven't checked yet, but I believe I have a relatively neutral pH in my soil, as tomatoes easily take off. I've had a few small wood fires in the garden area, and the tomato plants really loved those areas in particular.

With my 1948 8N tractor and a single bottom plow, I plan to plow in the late fall without raking so that the frost breaks up the exposed clumps. I might scatter some cover crop of oats or something and just see what grows. Then in the spring, I'll go over it 1-3 times with a spring tooth harrow to rake under any cover and for final preparation of the soil.

We will be planting lettuces, snap peas, green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, summer squash, and zucchini from seed by hoeing up the rows and setting the seed by hand.

As needed, I plan to use the spring tooth harrow to cultivate between the rows (I plan to get the spacing right) and then hoe the weeds in between the plants by hand.

In the late fall, after all crops have been harvested, compost and (possibly raw) horse manure may be added to the field and plowed under, again leaving the soil exposed so frost can do its thing.

This will be my yearly method, obviously I will be changing things as I go, but this is my starting point. I wanted to ask the community if anything in particular jumped out to you as a big time-waster, or if anyone had any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance!
 
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sammydwm
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Joined: 15 Oct 2008
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Location: central WI

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:03 am    Post subject: Re: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

For 50x70 I'd trade the tractor in on a good rear tine tiller with reversible tines.
 
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Brendon-KS
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Joined: 18 Dec 2007
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Location: Goessel, KS

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:13 am    Post subject: Re: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I can tell you from experience that using a full-sized tractor in a garden that small will be
awkward at best. My garden measures 100 x 100 and the the only time a tractor larger than a
Power King or Cub Cadet garden tractor is used is for the fall plowing and disking. Beyond that
the little tractors do all the work. Turn-around space is the biggest challenge - you'll need
20-25 feet of space around the outside of the garden for turning around. Another advantage of
using a smaller garden tractor for cultivating is that the soil compaction will be far less. A
garden tractor's single-row cultivator would be more practical as well, especially for hand-
seeded rows.

The other challenge relates to your tractor. An N-series does not have live hydraulics (unless
it was added after-the-fact) which means the pump isn't running unless the clutch is engaged.
When I'm using a "big tractor" (which for me means a Farmall 350 or Deere M) in my garden my
typical method is to run right up to the edge, clutch to stop, raise the implement, then start
moving again. In a small plot with limited turn-around space it just seems to work better for me
this way and prevents having to start lifting the implement before I'm to the edge or having the
implement drag dirt and debris over the grass. The catch with an N-series is that to make this
same maneuver would require a lot more clutch and transmission manipulation since you can't raise
the implement with the clutch depressed.
 
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Dave H (MI)
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Joined: 17 Dec 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:25 am    Post subject: Re: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Hi there! I am in SE Michigan and have always had a garden. I have a variety of tractors to choose from as I also do some farming as a sideline. Your garden is a nice size if you are canning/freezing. Your soil is typical of southern Michigan although on this side of the state we have hard clay down below...not sand so much. I would not add any more sand. Just compost and lots of it. Any manure is good, cow is better than horse. If you have lots of room on all sides of garden...no orchard trees or fences...then you can plow with the N if it makes you happy. But my tool of choice is a very large Troy-Built tiller. Won't compact the soil. Go deep in the Spring and shallow up the rows to cultivate later. Use a hiller attachment where appropriate. Works really well and does not make a mess.
 
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blackd
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:46 am    Post subject: Re: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I'm used to the clutch issue from plowing our driveway in the winter. Ours is 500 ft with a couple of turn arounds and a wide apron near the road. I've got plenty of room to maneuver around the garden so I think I should end up ok. And it's a small enough area that I don't mind stopping and starting a lot.
 
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blackd
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:47 am    Post subject: Re: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I realize the dimensions are a little small for a tractor, but once I am satisfied with my methods I eventually plan to scale them up to another four acre plot that we keep planted with rye for the deer.
 
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blackd
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:48 am    Post subject: Re: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

How does my compost ratio sound for my type of soil, in your opinion? It would take some work, but it could be adjusted.
 
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Brendon-KS
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Joined: 18 Dec 2007
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Location: Goessel, KS

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:24 pm    Post subject: Re: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

As long as you have lots of space using a tractor will sure work. I have about 25 feet to an equipment shed on one side and my neighbor's field on two other sides of my garden and I wouldn't want any less when using my big tractors. I have to be careful not to swing a hitch-mounted implement into the side of my building when turning short!

One implement that you would find a lot of use for is a disk harrow. Crops like tomatoes and squash usually result in some pretty viney residue and it makes plowing a lot easier if this is cut up first. A disk is also a good first pass tool over plowed ground. Disks do have a way of compacting the soil if used in damp clay ground so they need to be operated carefully. The top few inches might look and feel great but damage can be done below this level. I try to disk plowed ground in the fall right after plowing and then keep it parked in the spring when the ground is moist underneath. In many cases the spring-tooth harrow you mentioned would make a better springtime tillage tool than a disk, especially if the big chunks from plowing are broken up in the fall with the disk.

You might also consider a hand-pushed planter like an Earthway. These are quite inexpensive but actually do a decent job and save a lot of labor.
 
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Dave H (MI)
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:56 pm    Post subject: Re: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I'm not sure you will have enough leaves for that size garden and surely not enough kitchen scraps...so use manure. If you keep adding a lot of organic mzterial your soil will be great. 3 pt tillers are awesome also btw.
 
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old
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Location: Lake of the Ozarks area of MO

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:26 am    Post subject: Re: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Problem is Dave he has an 8N ford and an 8N and a tiller does not mix well unless he has the rare Howard rotovator aux transmission. Year ago my dad tried one on the 841S we have and found it was a big waste of time
 
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Dave H (MI)
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:24 am    Post subject: Re: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Yeah, i didn't know that about the "N"s. I only have one of em around...a 2n...and it's not good for much.
 
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old
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:40 am    Post subject: Re: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

1st gear on any of the ford wit ha 3 or 4 speed goes way to fast for a tiller so all a tiller will do is bounce around on top of the ground and never dig in
 
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ss55
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:19 am    Post subject: Re: New garden, looking for feedback Reply to specific post Reply with quote

If you do a good job of plowing it should kill most of the existing grass and sod, but not all. Excessive grass and weeds in a garden can be discouraging for new gardeners. Consider spraying the garden with Roundup (Glyphosate) a few weeks before plowing to kill off what's there now, read the chemical label.

If you are new to plowing, consider hiring someone to plow it the first fall and be there to watch how he does it. You will learn a lot - cheap tuition.

50 X 70 feet is a huge garden for a small family. Go ahead and plow the full area to get the ground in condition, but you may not want to plant it all the first year.

Rabbits can destroy an emerging garden, an 18 inch high chicken wire fence is adequate to keep rabbits out. Weave an upside down electric fence post rod down through the chicken wire and drive the post into the ground. With the post anchor above the fence the fence is easy to pull out or move. Deer are a whole nother problem.

The most important thing is to have fun, you and your family will enjoy it!
 
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