• Over tilling is bad, in virgin soil without organic matter. Pure soil, does have layers of organisms (usually 3-4" layers, down 2-3'), and more importantly is when you till. Too wet, moist or even when too dry can lead to compaction & hardpan, soil needs air and open spaces to hold water.
• With heavy organic soils, which stay naturally open for air & water, and host considerably more organisms throughout the 8-10" growing area, tilling is much less a problem, as long as you till when the conditions are best (not too wet not too dry), and especially good if you're adding more organic materials each time. Tilling may be worst on the earthworms, but you will still leave a good supply of them.
• It's important to remember that plants do not eat the organic matter, nor the live organisms; plant roots absorb the remains, the residue & the oils from the dead organisms. The thin plant hairs also absorb the nutrients from the rocks, those plant hairs have little suction cups on the ends that give off an acid directly to the rocks to dissolve it's surface to take up the minerals.
In the summer I like to sit in the garden and rather than removing stones, I use a small sledge hammer & anvil to smash those stones into dust & tiny pieces, to supply next years plants with food (old timers called it "Rock Phosphate"). Great de-stresser too. The "round stones" in the garden have basically given up all their surface minerals, when you smash the stones you'll see how the outside 1/8" layer is darker, the minerals are done, smashing stones will give the plants a new fresh surface to work on. The metal tines in tilling do this a little, nicking.
• Leave your regular tines on, just keep adding organic matter (I pickup 100 bags of leaves in the Fall, till in half then, and save 50 for the Spring tilling). Two-three passes in both the Spring & Fall are fine, and shallow passes in the paths in the Summer can actually conserve moisture (loose soil acts as its own mulch, as does an Organic Garden). A healthy Organic garden does not need any chemical fertilizer, just the balance of organic materials you add and till into the soil.
Re: Posting, In posting, "Use Full Editor" will give you all the options to do whatever you want and mare font corrections.
Edited by GlenPettit, November 16, 2013 - 02:56 PM.