How to plow and till a big vegetable garden area that's never been plowed before

posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 in Tips & Safety

Join us to hear from Tom Elliott on "How to Plow & Till a Garden" using a John Deere 3038E with a 300E Loader with a 61-inch materials bucket, a Frontier PB1001 1-bottom Plow, and a RT1165 Rotary Tiller, plus an iMatch Quik-Hitch. This equipment list starts with our Homesteader Compact Utility Tractor Package upgraded to 38HP. See all of our Tractor Packages here or Build Your Own John Deere here.

"Hi everybody I'm Tom Elliott with John Deere and today we'll show you how to plow and till a big vegetable garden that's never been plowed before. Here's another project we collaborated on with Jeremy and Corey Unruh. They'd reached out to us at Tips Notebook because they knew we wanted people to send us their project ideas and this is another great one to show. For this project we'll start by using a John Deere 3038E compact utility tractor, a 300E loader with a 61-inch materials bucket and a Frontier PB1001 1-bottom plow. Later we'll also use a Frontier RT1165 rotary tiller to prepare the seed bed for planting."

"This one bottom plow has a 14-inch shear which digs down when pulled and cuts the ground. And a moldboard which throws the cut soil up and over to the right and into the adjacent furrow. Before we arrived the Unruhs marked off the spot where they wanted their garden to be and measured about 30 feet by 50 feet. It receives full sun exposure, has good drainage, and good access to the water from the barn nearby, all important things to have for growing vegetables of any kind."

"Ok, let's get started. To plow a garden, make your first furrow right down the middle from end to end then turn around and begin your next pass by putting the right rear tire of your tractor in the furrow you've just made. You'll continue plowing this way always with the right rear tire and the furrow and always turning right in an enlarging pattern until your garden is plowed. In this way the plow always throws soil into the furrow to the right of your tractor because your right rear tire is always in the furrow you may need to adjust a third arm and lift length to make sure your plow stays level from front to back and side to side. Which is key to turning the soil upside down and rolling it into the furrow to the right. Once you plowed the ground, it's a good idea to let that soil dry out and settle down before you do anything else. In fact, it's not a bad idea at all to plow your garden in the fall and just let that soil sit over the winter letting any plant material break down and fertilize the soil but its Spring here at the Unruh place so we let the soil set undisturbed for two days. Now it's time to switch to the rotary tiller to prepare a perfect seed bed. First we'll hook up the rotary tiller using the i-match quick hitch we added to our tractor. With the i-match you just focus on the top hook and everything else falls into place. Then you close the locking levers attach the PTL shaft to the tractor and attach the safety chain to the PTO shield. Then raise the parking stand and secure it with this locking pin. Next we'll adjust the skid shoes to the depth we want which is no more than six inches. First we lowered the tiller onto two wooden blocks so it sits up about four inches off the ground. Next we loosened a pivot bolt so Scott can adjust the skid shoe depth. Then he replaced the locking plate tighten the set bolt and tighten the pivot bolt. Then he adjusted the other skid shoe to match the position of the first and the tiller is ready to go."

"Time for yours truly to take the wheel. Starting at one corner I begin running the rotary tiller slowly over the plowed garden soil. Since we're tilling just plowed soil, you'll notice the rear leveling board is wide open. That allows tilled soil to come out the back of the tiller freely, so it won't become clogged. With just plowed ground you should plan on going over your garden with a rotary tiller two or three times to get the soil seed bed just right. And just to top things off Dan spread a layer topsoil on the garden and rotary tilled it in. In less than an hour this piece of plowed ground has been rotary tilled and it's ready for the Unruh family to plant their first vegetable crop at their new home. Now that's a job well done."