The Never Till River
The Never Till River is a project to refurbish the depleted hard ass land that exists on this ridge into fluffy, fertile dirt over time with out tilling or plowing.
Using 4 20x100 sheets of 9ml black plastic to solarize the ground we prepared the land for a variety of seeding experiments. The 1st 2 attempts at spreading the plastic failed because, living on a ridge, we have occasional gusty wind days that pushed our plastic to the edge of the woods. We were finally able to rustle up enough stuff from the sheds to hold it all down.
In all areas we planted an abundance of Diakon Radish to do the work of tilling the soil and injecting it with organic matter. These radishes have been left to rot in the field in place. In all areas we planted a Field prep Blend of KY Wonder Beans, Borage, Cleome, Wild Dagga, Yarrow & Cow Peas.
An attempt was made to create a perimeter fence of Milk Thistle Wild Dagga, Cleome & Onions on the woodland side of The River and and a barrier of Double Mahogany Nasturtium on the road side of The River . It didn't really work out. Most of these perimeter plants did not germinate or died off quickly, the onions did not die but have not grown much.
The 1st section of 20x100 was drill planted using transplants and the Dewalt cordless drill with the plant hole making tool, then covered with straw. The 2nd section was scatter seeded with Sorghum and our Field Prep Blend.
The next 40x100 foot section was scattered with our Field Prep Blend and then seeded with sorghum at a ridiculous ratio; like seeding a lawn.The 3rd 40x100 section was scatter seeded with Daikon, KY Wonder Beans Cow Peas, Wild Dagga, Cleome, Borage, Yarrow and a light dusting of Sorghum to give the beans something to climb.
The River Narrows as it rounds the bend. We are about to plant the 4th section, 20x100, with a blend of fall veggie crops. The remaining sections may go straight into planting winter kill cover crops which will be planted over the entire River after harvests are complete.
Our Field Prep Blend is designed to bust up the top soil, add nutrients, draw nutrients up from deep down, offer pollinators a treat and be perennial or self seeding. As the full farm design materializes in the next couple years; The River will become an area for cash crop plantings of Sorghum, Beans and possibly Hemp. For now we are focused on soil building and experimenting with various annual food crops as a means to understand what wants to grow on our land.
January 2019 Update
We've abandoned the plastic cover. It is only good for 1 season before it starts disintegrating and at that lifespan it is not cost effective.
Hay is the new Black plastic:
Click the images below for a full screen,
detailed, step by step pictorial
of The River project.