No-Until Flower Farming | Half 1

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A bed of Daucus planted as part of a no-till flower farming system at Love 'n Fresh Flowers in Philadelphia.

No-till flower farming is a system of farming that (almost, if not completely) eliminates the turning over of the soil, be it with equipment or by hand. There are many causes which will spur a farmer to determine to go along with no-till farming practices.  Mine particularly had been a notable lower in yields on account of soil compaction, continuous lack of natural matter that I might simply by no means appear so as to add sufficient to switch, and a really moist rising season in 2018.  That final bit is what actually catapulted me into going wholly into no-till flower farming in 2019.  The tractor and tiller haven’t come out as soon as but this season!


Cover crops being grown in spring as part of a no-till flower farming system at Love 'n Fresh Flowers in Philadelphia.

I’m in no way an professional in no-till farming at this level.  Actually, I’m barely a newbie.  I leaned closely on my winter studying and analysis to get going.  Andrew Mefferd’s e book The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution: High Production Methods for Small-Scale Farmers has been the muse for what I’ve determined to implement this primary season of no-till flower farming.  I extremely advocate giving it a learn for the quite a few case research that it incorporates from diversified farms everywhere in the nation/world!  I’ve additionally gleaned a number of data from my inspiring mates, Tony and Denise, at Bare Mountain Flower Farm out in Oregon.  


Spreading compost on top of cardboard as part of a no-till flower farming system at Love 'n Fresh Flowers in Philadelphia.

The system for no-till flower farming that I’ve presently settled on for the 2019 rising season is as follows:

  1. Cowl crop (a mixture of rye, vetch, and clover) that was sown final fall and rising vigorously this spring was maintained with bi-weekly mowing till a given mattress was able to deliver into manufacturing, at which level, the duvet crop was “scalped” with a push mower.
  2. A single layer of enormous cardboard items was positioned on high of the mattress. Cardboard was 4’ vast and beds are 200’ to 250’ lengthy.*
  3. A deep layer (3”-4”) of well-aged compost was unfold on high of the cardboard the total size and width of the mattress. I used to be very cautious to supply a high-quality, aged compost for this.
  4. Information strings had been used to maintain straight traces as we transplanted 4 rows per mattress, spacing between vegetation has been 4” to six”, relying on the crop. A soil knife has been the most effective software for planting, as we’ve been capable of puncture the cardboard with it to make sure the transplant root methods can attain the soil under as they unfold out.  The transplants don’t initially attain the soil although; their root balls are surrounded by the compost solely.  We’ve not tried any direct seeding into this technique.
  5. Three traces of drip tape are positioned on high of the mattress after planting is completed. We had initially put the tape on first however we had been hitting it an excessive amount of beneath the compost and had a bevvy of leaks so placing it on high appears to be prudent with this technique.


Cardboard and compost being used as part of a no-till flower farming system at Love 'n Fresh Flowers in Philadelphia.

*A fast word about cardboard, as I’ve fielded a number of questions on this already each time the subject of no-till flower farming comes up in dialog:  I’m utilizing principally cardboard {that a} native equipment retailer places out for recycling.  I’ve additionally been utilizing some delivery containers {that a} retail florist often brings over.  The bottom line is to make use of large items of corrugated, brown (not coloured) cardboard in order that it’s simpler lay out a protracted row rapidly and effectively.  Little items of cardboard would blow round within the breeze.  Primary corrugated cardboard is comprised of all-organic supplies (soy based mostly ink, animal disguise glue, paper) so it’s utterly secure to make use of in your rising operations.  The cardboard within the beds right here at my farm has been noticeably breaking down about Three weeks after planting so it doesn’t stick round too lengthy, however lengthy sufficient to suppress the duvet crop and any weeds that might need to pop up among the many younger transplants.


A bed of lisianthus being planted as part of a no-till flower farming system at Love 'n Fresh Flowers in Philadelphia.

Thus far, I give this technique a giant thumbs up!  It’s not good by any means, nevertheless it’s working properly.  The draw back has been the additional labor of hauling all that cardboard and compost round.  The compost can be pretty dear, however I determine it’s a worthy long-term funding into future seasons of upper yields.  When it comes to labor, our weeding time has gone WAY down to this point this season on all our no-till flower farming beds (compared to our outdated system of utilizing plastic mulch over a tilled mattress. 

One other potential draw back has been that vegetation initially are sluggish to get rising till the cardboard begins breaking down.   I used to be nervous at first.  However the vegetation begin rising vigorously as quickly as they get actually settled in after just a few weeks and now appear to be outpacing the place they’d usually be at this level within the season.  I imagine I’ll forego utilizing cardboard in one other season or two.  First, I must grasp the artwork of stale-bedding with tarps in a extra well timed style in order that the duvet crop is really lifeless earlier than we begin planting in a mattress.  For now, the cardboard has been important.


A newly planted bed as part of a no-till flower farming system at Love 'n Fresh Flowers in Philadelphia.

Finally, what I had hoped for with this pivot to a no-till flower farming system has certainly occurred:  we’ve been capable of plant proper on schedule even all through a stormy, moist spring.  If I used to be nonetheless counting on my tractor and tiller, we’d be weeks behind.  So even when the vegetation are just a little sluggish after planting, I’ll nonetheless take it.  As a result of, HEY, they received planted!!

Learn extra flower farming associated weblog posts here and count on an replace on no-till flower farming on the finish of this rising season.  

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