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Photo Essay

Bed Prep

A thick stand of fall rye, vetch and fava covers much of the garden beds.

Close up of the Sweet Lorraine small-seeded fava bean. This is a nitrogen fixer and along with the vetch, is working to improve the nitogen content of the soil. The only challenge with a well established cover crop like this is to get it back into the soil with minimal hassle.

Since our garden is too small to plough, we're going to try top cut the cover crop down with scythe and then incorporate it slowly as a mulch.

Scythe's are a great tool for small market gardens. They require a bit more skill and attention than a weedwacker but they are sooo much quieter! Note the ding in the blade - I didn't see the t-post lying on the ground. The snath of this sythe (the wooden bit) was made for me by New Brunswicker Peter Vido - acknowledged to be one the world's scything experts.

I used the scythe to cut down the cover crop.

The cut cover crop was then raked into the paths between the beds in preparation for tilling. This was done to avoid clogging the tiller with the long stems.

Once the beds were cleared of the cut cover crop a BCS walk-behind tractor was used to do primary tillage.

A view of the beds once the primary tillage was completed. The beds in the background have already received secondary tillage.

Once the initial tillage was complete soil amendments were added. In this case our soil is low in potassium so a combination of Kmag and greensand were being added in the amounts recommended by the soil test that was done earlier in the year.

A close up of Kmag or potassium magnesium sulphate.

A close up of greensand - iron potassium silicate.

After the hand application of the soil amendments the beds will be gone over with a broadfork and then subjected to secondary tillage. At this point the beds are ready for planting!