Experts and BHG readers answer.
Tilling soil amendments into the soil amidst plants...???
I read this in a gardening forum re: improving clay soil: “I added woodchips as mulch & next season tilled it in for a wonderful improvement.” How do you till the soil when you have plants everywhere? Is she referring to using a POWER tiller? Isn’t it cumbersome to use it in the (relatively) small spaces between plants? Doesn’t it damage outward growing roots? And, tilling in amendments only in BETWEEN plants doesn’t really improve the soil UNDER the plants, where MOST of the roots are—does it??
Hi, Well it's difficult to improve the soil in an established garden, but it can be done. You either need to scratch the soil amendments in by hand with a hand tool or use a small, hand tiller such as a Mantis. You don't need to till so deep to damage roots, just do it shallowly to scratch the materials into the top inch of soil.
However, after reading this other post, I'm thinking they are mulching areas that get cleared each season such as a veggie garden. I don't really think tilling between plants is worthwhile. I suggest improving your soil BEFORE planting and then, as time goes on, using an organic mulch such as rotted leaves, compost or rotted manure between the plants. This will gradually decompose and help the plants and the soil.