to till or not to till

Asked April 14, 2016, 7:46 PM EDT

I have grown veggies for 20 yrs (tomato, pepper, etc). My garden is 1000 sq ft. I have always roto tilled deep. Once in the fall, and twice in the spring befoe planting. Last fall I planted winter rye grass as a cover crop and covered the seed with a thick layer of straw. I now have rye grass 1 ft tall. I have recently read that tilling the soil is bad. My question is should I cut, mulch, and turn the grass into the soil? Or cut, mulch, and let the grass lay without tilling, and cover with cardboard for weed control. Also, when does the soil get the nitrogen from the rye grass, while it is groing, or when it is tilled into the soil? I live in the north east in Morrisville, PA (across the Delaware River from Trenton, NJ) My garden gets 8 hrs of sun. I know about composting, worms, fertilizer, etc. I would appreciate any advice. I keep my garden all organic. THANK YOU dale

Bucks County Pennsylvania

1 Response

If you have been tilling and growing vegetables successfully for 20 years, you probably should continue as you have been doing unless your garden is on the side of a hill. If you are on the side of a hill, your soil might wash away. Do not till when the soil is too wet. Tilling does bring up weed seeds, but you have been dealing with them for 20 years. The nitrogen is released as the rye decomposes. If you do not want to til now, you could use either of the sequences that you have suggested, but tilling would be easier. vw