[Market-farming] No-till in the organic mainstream
road's end farm
organic101 at linkny.com
Tue Jan 30 11:00:36 EST 2007
On Jan 29, 2007, at 11:28 AM, Tradingpost wrote:
> there's nothing mysterious about no-till
> annual organics. Evidently the NOFA-NY crowd didn't include Eliot
> from Maine, who's been doing it for years, and quite successfully as
> in my
> original post from his book.
No, I don't think Eliot Coleman was physically present at the meeting.
I think that all or most of us have read him, however. Although Four
Season Harvest is primarily and explicitly aimed at the home gardener,
there's a great deal in there that translates well to the smaller scale
market gardener, and some to larger scale operations; and of course he
has also written specifically for the market grower.
However, he isn't describing what I think of as a no-till system. I've
rechecked your reference from your original post (to pp. 38-40 of Four
Season Harvest) in my copy. On, p. 40, he writes that the beds are
aerated once a year with a broadfork, "doing by hand what large scale
organic farms do with a winged chisel plow". Page 40 also says "We
spread compost on the surface and mix it in shallowly". On p. 44 he
says "incorporate the green matter residues by turning over the soil
shallowly with a spade" or "chop the surface clean with a hoe to
prevent regrowth, rake the bed smooth". He does also discuss, as an
alternative, planting into a mowed green manure that is left in place
in the field. It's my actual experience, as well as that of others,
that this will cause a flush of enthusiastic weeds a couple of weeks
later. Coleman doesn't discuss this effect; but what he does about it
is quite clear. On pp. 62-64 he discusses, at some length, the
importance of controlling weeds in his system through frequent shallow
To translate this to a farm scale: chisel plow once a year; incorporate
compost and/or green manure crops shallowly (possibly with a spader);
control weeds as they germinate with shallow cultivation (presumably,
according to crop, growth stage of crop, and soil type, with anything
from a wiggle hoe to basket weeders; there are lots of options.)
That's not what I meant by a no-till system. If what you meant was just
not using a moldboard plow or similar implements, yes, there are lots
of people farming organically with little or no use of actual plowing.
Are you yourself using an entirely no-till organic farm-scale system?
If so, could you describe it for us?
By the way -- as with any farm or garden system, not everything that
works for Coleman will work for everyone else. The Coleman collineal
hoe, for instance, is very likely great if you have light sandy soil
without rocks. I have one hanging in the barn; the very light blade
lasted something like ten minutes before bending uselessly out of
shape. There are sturdier hoes that are used in the same or similar
fashion; try a good swan hoe or diamond hoe. (My favorite, the Doug
Black hoe, doesn't seem to be available anywhere.)
-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Size: 3057 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/market-farming/attachments/20070130/c632ae85/attachment.bin
More information about the Market-farming