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Publication: Garden Guides
Worms vs Deep Tilling

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                 GardenGuides Newsletter 
                  Tuesday, June 19, 2007 
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Garden Going to the Dogs? 

Here's some advice from bhg.com to help you coexist peace-
fully with your canine companion:

Dig for a Solution - Dogs dig. It's their nature. 

- Use bricks and add dirt to fill their holes. After scrap-
ing claws on bricks, dogs will decide that this isn't fun 
after all. 

- They also enjoy scraping off huge sections of lawn, 
leaving bare dirt. Lay chicken wire, burying edges deep so 
they can't pull the wire out. Over this, lay St. Augustine 
sod. Wire effectively discourages digging in gardens, too. 

- Dogs may repeatedly dig in the same spot to get at under-
ground decaying matter. One way around that is to cover 
those spots with brick squares topped by decorative planters.


Use a plant's natural defenses to keep your dog from ruining 
your flowers.  

- Many herbs and pungent flowers perfume the air when dogs 
plow through. While that won't discourage the canines from 
doing their thing, it's a silver lining to cling to when 
beds get trampled. 

- Although small-thorned or prickly bushes such as barberry 
and hollies will discourage some dogs, resist the urge to 
plant varieties with long, lethal thorns or points, such as 
yucca. These might injure a dog's eyes. Sometimes a mulch 
that's uncomfortable or uneasy to walk on will work. A 
thick carpet of pinecones, for example, discourages even 
steamrollers.
 

Give in to your dog, and create an attractive path that 
suits your pet and protects your plants. 
 
- Be willing to compromise. Turn a dog's favorite route into 
a decorative pathway and landscape around it. 

- To keep dogs on track, consider lining the path with 
raised beds or ornamental fencing. 

- Another option is to divide the yard, giving the dog a 
private area that is at least partially shaded.
 
- Line pathways with soft materials (pine needles or leaves) 
that dogs will like. A pretty but uncomfortable paving will 
send dogs on new routes. 

- In a fenced-off section, add a sandpile for digging, safe 
toys, and a flat-roof doghouse so they can get on top and 
survey their domain. Dogs like that. By the same token, if 
you have a stockade fence, leave a small window for them to 
see through.

- Remember that dogs, like people, are all different. It may 
take a lot of experimenting to see what works for both you 
and your pet. The important thing is to keep your sense of 
humor. Remember, dogs think their behavior is perfectly 
normal and you're the one who's not cooperating.

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Worms vs. Deep Tilling
by Charlie Nardozzi

Gardeners know that earthworms in the garden are a sign 
of healthy soil. These earthy allies loosen the soil, 
create fertile soil clods or aggregates, provide pathways 
for plant roots, redistribute organic matter, and drain 
and aerate the soil. We routinely till in applications of 
organic matter to encourage earthworm activity, but now 
it appears that how we apply it matters more than we 
thought. Recent research presents some surprising evidence 
that deep tilling is not the best method.

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Dennis Linden at USDA-ARS soil lab in St. Paul, Minnesota, 
has found that earthworms are creatures of habit. Once a 
worm stumbles onto its food source, it remembers where 
the food is located and keeps coming back for more. The 
pattern of these return trips depends on the location of 
the earthworm's main food source: organic matter. If the 
organic matter has been tilled into the soil and incorp-
orated six inches or more, earthworm tunnels will tend to 
be horizontal as they patrol to find food. However, if the 
organic matter is left on the soil surface, the tunnels 
tend to be vertical as the earthworms dig upwards to their 
food source.	

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Vertical tunnels not only allow for better air and water 
penetration into the soil layers than horizontal tunnels, 
they also help with removing chemical toxins. The soil in 
the burrows created by vertical tunnels harbors more 
beneficial microbes, and these microbes can degrade pest-
icides and fertilizers.

So this fall, unless your soil quality is poor, till 
organic matter just a few inches into the soil, leaving a 
3- to 4-inch-thick layer on the surface. Earthworms will 
do their good work through the winter as long as the ground 
isn't frozen. 

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END OF GARDEN GUIDES   
Copyright 2007 by NextEra Media. All rights reserved.   
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