Last week we finished up working both our ground we grew in last year and the additional ground for the Central Michigan CSA members this year. I wrote an article when we were doing the plowing and thought I do the same about the second step for us, discing. Our CSA or Farm Co-Op is located in Mid Michigan and we serve the surrounding area if your interested in learning more about the CSA program or want to become a memeber, fill out the CSA Newletter form on the side of this web page.
We only plow new ground or ground we planted a cover crop on the previous fall, but we choose to disc everything both new and last years planting areas whether we had a cover crop or not. Plowing runs deaper, up to 10″ or so, and discing works with the overturned topsoil that the Plow leaves behing.
Why Do We Disc?
We disc because it’s a productive way to loosen the soil after a wet spring and frozen winter. It allows air into the soil which is critical for plants to do well. Plants need oxygen AND they need it at their ROOTS. Discing also cuts up any larger pieces of sod in newly plowed ground and (hopefully) kills the grasses and weeds that then become organic matter to feed this year’s vegetable crop. Another thing the disc helps accomplish is a level planting area.
We plant on raised beds and use mulch and drip lines to irrigate. This avoid the actuall plants from being wet and reduces disease, blights and bugs without using insecticides. It also complete reduces weeds growing within a foot or so on either side of the plant. We don’t spray for weeds either. The raised beds require a “raised bed machine” to install them at the scale we grow on so we have to take one more step and run a 5′ rototiller over the ground just before we make the beds. That’s the next step before we plant which we are starting Thursday outside. We already have some stuff started in the High Tunnel, but Thursday will be the first trasplants to actually go out side. The ten day forcast looks good and May is just around the corner.
If you are growing your own vegetable garden I recommend waiting until Memorial Day weekend to plant. If you plant earlier like we do, then be prepared to cover your plants. We expect to have at least 6 or so nights where frost will be a factor and we prepare for that. On a small garden scale you can use a milk jug with the bottom cut out to cover your plant. Make sure to take the CAP of the jug. We use what is called frost cloth or low tunnels which consist of metal hoops about every 6′ or so that supports a light plastic film to provide protection from frost and additional warmth on cooler days.