Tag Archives: Agriculture

To Till or Not to Till in Spring Gardens?

Spring has started and many are preparing their community, home and school gardens. Building soil is important in New Mexico. Jermaine Theragood provided a class today on how to add aged horse manure, soil amendments and compost to create soil.   He discussed how to top dress the soil around plants and use a broadfork to add holes in the soil without tilling a garden. He does not use a rototiller to start new gardens. Jermaine builds the soil sustainability without the use of fossil fuels with his broadfork.

What is a broadfork? It is a large garden fork that is two feet wide. Work on a large garden by using your body weight to insert and move the tool instead of your back and arms. This does not break up the soil, but allows additional space. Eliot Coleman writes about gardening year round and uses this concept for deep aeration of soil while preserving the structure and minimizing weed seed surfacing. This broadfork is one of the handiest tools for turning a garden bed.

Steve Dulfer from Dulfermetal makes broadfork in Santa Fe so we do not have to pay for shipping. It makes preparing your soil easy. 

Description from website: All steel construction with hardened tines make it lightweight and durable.  Cushioned rubber grips on 48″ handles make it comfortable and easy to use.  The 15″ width is just right for a planting row.  Simply step on the crossbar to drive the tines into the soil and pull the handles back toward you to break up and aerate lumpy soil ten inches deep.  Makes preparing new beds or turning in compost and other amendments a snap.

This is a great tool to add to your garden collection. It is less expensive than borrowing a tiller and maintains the soil in large pieces to keep the soil structure.

Native Bees

Paul Navrot provided a class at Milagro Community Garden on native pollinators and here is a summary and some of the tools.  This is the information that he put together and you can contact him below at his website.
The Native Bees Class on Sunday, May 20th included a discussion focused on the cultivation of non-honey producing, North American bees.   These non-aggressive pollinators serve an important ecological function in agricultural practices of all scales that incorporate crops not dependent on wind-pollination.  Gardeners, or anyone interested in supporting, cultivating, and observing these crucial roles in the ecosystem can rear mason and leaf-cutter type bees by building habitat.  Adult bees rear larvae in nests created using mud or vegetation – mason and leaf-cutter types respectively, in bored holes that are found in tree trunks.  A gardener can imitate this habitat by drilling horizontal, or slightly downward holes in dead wood that receives morning sun and is protected from rain and snow.  A paper lining or cardboard tube inserted into this cavity can allow the harvesting of young in the event of incomplete emergence the following year.  Special attention should be given to integrate a diversity of flowering plants, particularly natives, in garden compositions for sources of nectar and pollen. Included as part of this class was actual construction where the class built and installed a bee-brooder-post at the Milagro Community Garden.  Employing basic carpentry, the class quickly transformed two pieces of untreated ‘two-by-four’ into a bee brooder that is capable of rearing hundreds of mason and leaf-cutter type bees.  The brooder-post serves as highly conspicuous place where people can observe the life processes of pollinators while they assist in the fruit and seed setting of crops in nearby gardens.
Published resources for more information regarding native bees …
Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees,” by Dr. Beatriz Moisset, and Dr. Stephen Buchmann.

The New Mexico Native Bee Pollinator Project

Penn State Extension, “Wild Bees as Alternative Pollinators

This Template will help you drill holes for your bees- drilling template

Pablo Navrot’s website/ garden journal