Rototilling while ground wet?

I want to start preparing my backyard vegetable garden for planting here in suburban Boston, but we've had quite a bit of rain in the last week. How bad is it to rototill while the ground is still wet?
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Rick Charnes wrote:

Short answer: Very.
Longer answer: It does depend on just how wet it is. At the muddy extreme, a small rototiller may just bog down. If it's drier than that but still wet enough that the soil stays in large or small clumps, you end up with a collection of clumps that subsequent rain tends to flow around, not through. (A lumpy soil is also harder for plants to sink roots into.)
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snipped-for-privacy@midnightbeach.com writes:

I'd have said you'll know when you start.<g>
Seriously, you really need to wait until the soil crumbles more than clumps. If you can turn over two or three spades full and then easily rake it "down" then you are probably okay, but if you have problems raking it, then it's too wet. With that said, I'll add that much depends on your soil.
My garden had idea conditions for rototiller earlier this week and I wasn't able to do it. With three days of rain, some of it rather heavy, I will be waiting another week or at least three or four days with no significant rain even with the excellent drainage in the garden. Though I'm impatient, I've learned it's better all the way around to wait those extra days. In addition to being more difficult to plant in (much more effort required), it's also much more work to run the tiller when the soil is too wet.
Just my thoughts.
Glenna
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If this is your first garden and you're planting over "lawn", you need to dig up the sod before you till.
Tilling wet ground is a sticky mess; better to wait until it dries a bit.
Mark, BTDT
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You might want to lay black plastic garbage bags over future garden(currently lawn). Eventually is kills off grass and weeds from lack of light and lack of ran> I just did this last week which was good, cause we had seriously soaking rains. I dug up a 4'x4'x8" patch today and added my amendments, tore up the sod, tilled under and such.
If I hadn't covered the area it would probably be somewhat muddy still.
DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, <1 mile off L.I.Sound 2nd year gardener
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On Fri, 16 Apr 2004 14:33:54 -0400, Rick Charnes wrote:

If your ground is almost entirely sand, not too bad. If it's anything else, suicide. Not only will the immediate results dismay you, you'll have to redo the job once the soil has properly dried.
Find something else to do while the soil dries.
Bill
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On Fri, 16 Apr 2004 14:33:54 -0400, Rick Charnes

DON'T DO IT!!! It will destroy your soil structure, turn it into a bunch of clods and just make a mess and be a horror story to try to control the tiller in it. It would be easier to just spade up what you need for now if you must work it.
Janice
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I go with the idea of no till. Keeps the soil structure intact and much easier on my back. Never work in wet soil. Not good for the dirt Nicole

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