Breaking the Soil

dsc_0006-2All hoes are not equal.


The larger of the hoes is a grub hoe, the other one I believe is an American standard. The grub hoe is new to the homestead but so far I like it a lot. The American standard hoe I like too,  also used is a goose neck hoe for weeding. The grub hoe was purchased at For breaking ground the grub hoe is much more effective that a standard hoe (my American standard is also used for mixing concrete which is why it is grey).

Part of the reason for this post is that I don’t think many people know about the larger hoes, when I was in Africa most people used one similar to the grub hoe, the one I have has a 3 lb head and is much better for breaking ground than other smaller hoes.

There are many reasons to break ground with a hoe:

  1. Tiller’s are expensive
  2. You don’t believe in burning gas to garden.
  3. Tilling is bad for the soil (not sure if a hoe is much better but probably not as bad).
  4. You have a small space to work.
  5. You have an enclosed space and don’t want to die from carbon monoxide.
  6. you have a tight space and don’t want to tear up other crops.

There are more reasons but there is always a time to have a heavy duty hoe. For more information on hoes:

When it comes to breaking soil there are many different view points. The more you get into gardening especially with the view point of wanting to be organic or as natural as possible there are issues. Those that don’t worry about anything, just till and fertilize with chemicals while spraying all the pests with chemicals live in a wonderful land of bliss. However, tilling and spraying and praying are proven bad ideas.

Unfortunately there are reasons for the ways of yesterday, tilling and chemicals. I went through a kick a while ago where I was going to try very strictly using no till permaculture, I failed miserably. I do believe that permaculture is the best possible way to grow food, develop food forests with easy to maintain food producing plants and using animals to help regulate pests and to fertilize the soil, there are issues though.

Again the use of permaculture is the best environmentally sound way to farm, but many of the crops that are good for resale are not on the list. Many people are not willing to buy the vegetables that are perennial and suited best for permaculture. I am no expert by any means and I’m not trying to discourage anyone from going trickily no till but it is hard. If you don’t believe that tilling is bad look at the USDA information, look at your tilled garden during a rain storm and compare the run off to the water that is running off in the woods! The whole shift to Round Up resistant crops and no till planting was because of the negative affects of tilling, think about the Dust Bowl! Round Up resistant crops and no till farming is like trying to turn Satan against himself so I don’t buy that either. I have watched my tilled garden have massive amounts of water run off where the woods immediately next to them absorb all of the rain. Previously, before becoming more educated I thought a tilled garden absorbed more water than non tilled but it’s not the case, largely due to worms, worms don’t like tillers.

All of that to say it is very hard to stay to strict rules, we should all strive to go towards as environmentally friendly methods as possible but we have to be successful also, if I had a cow and it was sick I would give it medicine, if I have to till to grow a crop I can sell, for now I will till. Eventually maybe I will be able to grow strictly  using permaculture principles but for now I am trying to get as close as possible.


Sometimes being more kind to the environment is taking advantage of what you are given, with my bush hog down the field grew up, when I had it mowed, I had strips left of blackberries. Of course that sacrifices pasture but to me it is worth it, a natural crop that sells and doesn’t involve any chemicals or tilling.

There are many things to take into consideration with farming, only you have the answers to your situation as long as you are trying to do the best you can in regards to the environment and with integrity to the consumer.

Author: millcreekhomestead

Just a stay at home Dad trying to become more self sufficient in a world getting more dependent. It’s easy to get lost in all the things of the world, sometimes the best therapy is getting your hands dirty and growing something good!

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