We had done some 1992 experimentation with the no-till, marigold/petunia version of the Hydrosource/Sunbelt Dryland Garden system at the Douglas County Library in Castle Rock, Colorado. But it was not until 1993 that we constructed this first fullscale NO-TILL/NO-IRRIGATE garden. The location was a 14″ (350mm) annual rainfall site at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in Hugo, Colorado, on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. Done in cooperation with Renee Hink, an innovative Colorado State University 4-H Extension Specialist, this no-till bed was constructed adjacent to a conventional Hydrosource/Sunbelt bed (background) in which Hydrosource Standard of varying rates had been incorporated into the soil to a depth of 5″-6″ (13-15 cms.).
This small 7′ X 30′ (approx. 2m X 9m) bed was constructed by spreading Hydrosource Standard (2-4mm) down over the unplowed, virgin prairie ground at the rate of 150 lbs. (68 kgs.) per 1000 sq. ft. (91 sq. meters). This high polymer rate proved unnecessary, as the site never received sufficient summer rainfall to use even 30% of the applied Hydrosource that summer.
This modest NO-TILL/NO-IRRIGATE bed actually showed better growth than the conventional bed in the background in which polymer had been incorporated into the soil. Both plots suffered heavy grasshopper damage at the 6-8 week mark, but nevetheless this no-till site was a milestone in development of the NO-TILL version of the Hydrosource/Sunbelt Dryland Gardening System. Suddenly it became possible at dryland Eastern Colorado sites to raise vegetables dryland without tractors, rototillers, shovels or even hoes. All that was needed to construct this garden was a hammer to drive in the fabric staples and a pair of scissors to cut the planting holes in the Sunbelt. Later more sophisticated planting methods were to be developed.
NOTE: As of 11 January 1997 Renee Hink is with the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Aitkin, MN; and may be contacted at: Tel: (218) 927-7321.
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Copyright 1993 by Daniel J. Wofford, Jr, and Dale Greenwood.