Monday, June 3, 2013

No Till Farming in Our Pumpkin Patch

I have decided to try a No Till method of farming for our pumpkin patch this year.  This idea came about for a few reasons.
1.  We don't have a tiller to till up the soil.
2.  Our land is so rocky, I'm almost afraid to try tilling.

No Till Farming is when a cover crop is planted and then killed (either by cutting it for certain crops, or most likely, using round up). Then the new crop is air seeded right through the old cover crop without tilling up the ground first.

They say the benefits to this are;
- keeping the soil from being eroded.
- the ground cover helps keep moisture in the ground.
- you use less fuel because you're not tilling.
- It could help keep weeds down.

There are many more benefits to no till farming, but there are some downsides too.  Weeds can still come through and if you don't keep up with them, they can take over. 

Here is the process for no till farming on our farm. I have done things a bit different from conventional no till practices, as you will see.

This is the land we chose for our pumpkin patch. It runs along side our driveway.  You can see how it was totally overgrown.  And we only have a little lawn tractor to clean it up.

Larry set to work and cleaned it up.
In the picture below, you can see just a couple of the rocks that we have to deal with. They are everywhere on our property.
This is where I did things a little different.  Instead of seeding right through the dead cover crop, we dug holes where I wanted a pumpkin hill to be. Then filled it with composted manure dirt. Also, I am not going to kill the "cover crop" first. I'm going to let the pumpkins grow until they are just big enoough to fit into an ice cream bucket, then I'm going to cover them with an ice cream bucket and round up the field then.  Hopefully the pumpkins will grow really fast at that point and cover the ground, keeping the weeds down. Until we round it up, I would keep mowing it. I'll probably have to mow 3 times. And I didn't plant a cover crop, I'm just letting whatever it is that was already growing there grow.
We have some great friends who offered us composted manure dirt! I was very grateful. So, we went to their farm and they loaded us up.

While we were there, we just had to look at their baby lambs. Oh, they were sweet!

Sorry, back to the pumpkins.  This is our patch below.  I saw a few pumpkins coming up a couple days ago.

I am excited about this project and will keep updates coming so you can see our progress. Even if it's bad. I really appreciate people who share even when things aren't going as planned. There are some no till pumpkin patch videos on YouTube that I watched before I came up with my plan and I am so grateful that the farmer posted them because I learned so much from him.  Things didn't really work out like he wanted, but he shared it all anyway.

God bless.

This post is linked up to; The Prairie Homestead Fresh Eggs Daily This Mind Be in You New Life On a Homestead


  1. Very interesting! I am anxious to see more progress. I love learning new ideas for the garden. We always have such a mess of weeds in the pumpkin patch, so next year round up may be the solution. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Shannon.
      I will be posting a progress report very soon.