How can I garden while maintaining the health of my yard?
May 1, 2014 2:27 AM Subscribe
I have a yard of my own for the first time in my life, and I'm really enjoying getting into gardening. We've been here about two and a half years, and it's still very exciting for me to have so much dirt of my own to play with. I started my tomato and cantaloupe seeds under a grow light a few weeks ago, and am looking forward to planting them outside soon. However, I'm afraid to till or dig up the soil in any way, because I don't want to do anything that could contribute to erosion, or otherwise damage the health of my soil. Are my fears valid? If so, do you know of any gardening methods that will prevent erosion and help maintain a healthy yard?
posted by sam_harms to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
For example, one thing we'd like to do is plant vines all along the ugly chainlink fences in the back yard (I've already spoken to my neighbors about this), but the ground is already sort of sunken around the border, and I'm afraid that digging into it will just make the problem worse.
We did garden last summer. The previous autumn we piled fallen leaves up in one pile, covered it with a tarp, and let it sit all winter. When spring came we mixed it up, then bought a bunch of bags of dirt to cover it. We then planted in that dirt. I figured that was a good way to build the soil up, instead of tilling it up and breaking it down.
There are two problems with that method. The first is that it costs more money than we have right now. Those bags of dirt are pretty heavy, but there's not much dirt in them. 1 cubic foot just doesn't go that far. We could get it delivered in bulk, but we have a pretty big yard (about half an acre), and to get all the dirt for all our little projects would cost several hundred dollars, which is not something we can spare right now.
My second problem with that method is that it isn't sustainable on a larger scale. I'm preventing damage to my own yard, but what about the place I'm getting the dirt from? If the only way to prevent erosion is to take dirt form somewhere else, then the continents would have been swept away into the ocean millions of years ago, right? There has to be a better way, or at least a different way.
I'm fully aware that my ideas of erosion or land management might be naïve or simply wrong. Please feel free to point that out, if that is the case. I live in Central Ohio, which is pretty flat, and pretty fertile. I don't know if erosion is a real problem in this area, I just feel very protective over this little piece of earth that we've been given stewardship over.
Any advice you all can give me on this situation would be most appreciated.