Here is a current picture of no till flower farming here on Bare Mtn Farm. Yes, we are still practicing the no till methods. Yes, we are still working on improving our soil. But the most often question we get is, "how do you deal with weeds?". We have found that the less we work the soil with tilling, broadforking or turning the soil; the less weeds seem to sprout and create a problem. After tarping our rows in occulation, we apply the necessary minerals and a kiss coat(1/2-3/4") of compost and thoroughly irrigate the row to be planted. Then we plant.
Here is a photo of the close spacing of planted dianthus. We plant many of our flowers at an average spacing of 9x9 on a diamond pattern. This close space planting allows the plants to form a canopy over the soil thus covering up weeds. It also encourages taller flowers as they stretch and muscle for their spot. We typically do one weeding that takes about an hour and half for a 100 ft row. That is usually is good for the row for this succession. We watch the edges of our beds for creeping grass or a low growing weedy vines that are easily removed. Because we have not disturbed the weed bank in the soil for sometime, we are finding as time moves on less weeds are taking root in our rows.
Here is the Amazon Dianthus growing tall and close to shelter the weeds out.
Here is our sedum growing on a fairly close spacing with no weeds in the row. But there is some grass on the edges, that will get scythed and cleaned up.
Ageratum growing in a no-till row with very little weeds. It was planted very close in spacing and weeded once by hand and once with a collinear hoe. You can see a row that is tarped below the ageratum that is in preparation for a fall planted columbines and yarrow.
We also practice no till flower farming in our hoophouses. Here are very closely planted mini blocks of dusty miller planted in one of our hoophouses. We run a length of tarp along the side of the bed that faces outside of the hoophouse, to keep the weeds from creeping in. Weeding this edge is hard with a hoe or by hand so weed suppression is key here.
Same spot and fully grown and harvest-able. No weeds in the row, just tall grass outside the hoophouse.
We feel we are slowly getting the hang of no till methods, improving our soil and getting weeds under pretty good control. That is a good thing because there is a whole host of other problems that need to be dealt with, like insect control and huge critter control. So there is always something new to deal with, learn from and handle.
So we just keeping planting.....