...starting a new garden the no-till way — which basically means using newspapers to smother the grass and weeds without resorting to herbicides, and then adding a few inches of compost and planting right through it.
The advantages of not tilling are many. Weed seeds are not brought to the surface of the soil, where they readily sprout and grow. You don’t churn up earthworms and countless other organisms that will aerate and enrich the soil just fine, thank you, if you feed them compost and leave them alone. And since gas-powered tillers not only pour hydrocarbons into the air, but also release CO2 when they churn up the soil, leaving them in the garage is a good way to cut down on your carbon footprint.
I had read about this method in “Weedless Gardening,” by Lee Reich, a soil scientist in New Paltz, N.Y., and in the spring of 2009 had visited his bountiful gardens, which are never tilled and produce abundant fruit and vegetables with very few weeds.
Fall is a great time to start a new garden, even if you are not going to plant until spring. But if you love fall greens, which get sweeter with cold nights, there is still time to plant seeds of spinach, mustard greens, short-season bok choy, claytonia, mâche — even erba stella.
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