I have always been thankful that I was born near open fields. Although our home was in a city of over 2,000,000 population, we were surrounded by farm land on three sides and each spring could watch sturdy brown teams pulling old-fashioned mouldboard plows through the rich prairie loam of our area.
The action of a mouldboard plow is nothing short of poetry in motion. It is not a simple knifelike edge, slicing its way through the soil. Instead, the furrow slice is cut loose by the sharp edge and shin of the plowshare and forced against the plow surface. It strikes at such an angle that it is at first crumbled and granulated, and then turned, inverting the soil and depositing it on top of trash and plant residues. If the physical condition of the earth is good, no other device can do a better job of granulation and covering.
Old Dobbin's hoofs were not very large and did not compact the soil to any extent. The same cannot be said for many tractors which are heavy enough to cause serious compaction. Some of the smaller riding tractors, which weigh less than a horse, are a good compromise. Their one weakness is that they often lack adequate power, but if used at a fairly slow rate and with not too large a plowing attachment, they do an excellent job.
Gardener's Loam and "good soil tilth" are synonymous. Achieving such mellow soil almost always requires some tillage. After testing (perhaps by the mud pie test) to determine whether the soil's moisture content is favorable, the gardener can use a manual or mechanical method to prepare the ground for planting. Trenching, double-digging, and rotary tilling are effective methods-and if carried out properly they need not involve burdensome labor.