Preparing and Tilling Your Garden: A How to Guide

It seems weird to say that we are halfway through April and just now starting to think about preparing a garden, but with the weather rollercoaster we’ve experienced, it’s likely not warm enough for most crops to do well. As we, hopefully, start to head to warmer weather, the soil will finally be ready to till. For best planting, the soil should be above 60 degrees and fairly dry. Once the soil is just right, then we can prepare our garden space by tilling the soil.

If you’re new to gardening and not sure what tilling is, tilling is simply a way to prepare an area for gardening. Tilling breaks up the soil and is a great thing to do if you have compacted soil that needs to be broken up. In addition to breaking up the soil, tilling turns sod over, mixing the organic matter from the grass into the soil, giving your garden a great foundation.

When tilling your garden, there are several tips and tricks to keep in mind.

The first thing you need to decide is where you will place your garden and how big you want it. Most people use small posts with twine or rope to mark off the space they’re hoping to till for the garden.

At this point, its recommended that you remove visible weeds from your garden space, making sure to get all of the root. This minimizes the growth of weeds as the rest of your plants grow. If you have a smaller tiller, you will also need to remove as much grass as you can as it may not be able to move through it. Many go over the plot once to get the top layer of grass up as it makes it easier to separate the grass and weeds from the soil.

Once grass and weeds are gone, you are ready to till. Remember to wear protective eyewear and try to have the majority of your body covered when tilling. Start in one corner of the garden and till in a straight line along the edge (similar to mowing), making rows.

It’s important to go slowly while making your rows. You don’t want to rush the process as tilling soil can feel a little unsteady. As you’re tilling, you want to make sure you have a firm grip on the tiller. Also, since Tennessee is a bedrock for limestone and other rocks, it’s likely that you’ll encounter some. Take it slow, remove the rocks that you can.

Finally, only till each row once. If you go over it more than once, you’re actually not breaking up the dirt but instead compacting it. Once you’ve worked through everything once, you can add nutrients to the soil and start your planting. In a few short weeks, you’re likely to have the start of some fresh produce.

Don’t own a tiller? No problem! Franklin Rental has several different sizes of tillers you can rent by the hour, day or month. The staff can help you find the right tiller for your project. Learn more here. 

Franklin Rental is located at 1516 Columbia Ave, Franklin TN 37064.