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Old 06-14-2009, 12:30 PM
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,858 posts, read 51,363,981 times
Reputation: 27740


Well, our entire main garden has now been planted for another year. This one is about 100' x 75'. In prepping it, I have really become disgusted with the number of rocks and weed roots that have to be repeatedly dealt with. The soil is about 15% rock, and some of the weed grasses are tenacious, even after repeated tilling and tossing out of large rocks and the worst roots and weeds.

I'm considering making an implement to remove the top layer of rocks and roots once and for all, so that the tiller can properly do the job of fluffing the soil and working in amendments. I know it could be done with a backhoe and screener, but that is too big and too expensive.

I know that a lot of gardeners go through the same type of stuff every year (though maybe not to the same extent), and I'm wondering if others see the same value to removing this stuff that I do, and if so how much they would pay to have it done.

I'm thinking of total removal of rocks larger than about 3/4" and the bulk of grass and weed roots and stalks, for a depth of about 8" to 10", leaving a fluffed loam. If you are a gardener, how much would you pay to have this done so that you had a pristene bed in the spring? Say for a plot of 100' x 50'?

The reason I ask is that making such a device wouldn't be cheap and I'd have to not only make money back, but make some income off it as well.

For those of you with gardens that aren't as rough, let's just say I envy you.
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Old 06-14-2009, 08:58 PM
Location: rain city
2,956 posts, read 11,049,601 times
Reputation: 4865
Could sound strange, but I think 15% rock is good? Hard on tillers maybe but small rocks don't really bother the plants any, and they tend to improve drainage. I wouldn't worry about them.

Weeds are something we all just have to live with. To reduce weed growth mulch is good, and not turning over the soil frequently helps too. Turning up the soil exposes the buried dormant weed seeds to surface conditions and causes them to sprout like crazy. If you pull the weeds when they're small before they drop seeds, you can really reduce weeds over a period of time. Then mulch.
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Old 06-14-2009, 09:50 PM
Location: Albemarle, NC
7,730 posts, read 12,452,456 times
Reputation: 1489
It's called a "root rake" and around here, they charge about $300 to bring it out. It fits behind a small tractor and pulls all the big pieces to one edge of the field. We have lots of rocks in the hills here. The longer they stay on site, the more expensive it gets. Since my garden is small and terraced, sort of, it's not worth the cost for me. This will be the only year I actually till the ground completely. Once I get my base established, I just continue to add organic material all winter. Eventually, if composts in place and grows nice big healthy plants. Few weeds too.

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