280. The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution | Growing For Market | The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook | Andrew Mefferd | Cornville, Maine

To win a copy of Andrew’s Book answer this poll where you can enter the raffle. And remember you can get a 20% discount by using the code: garden on a subscription to Andrew’s awesome publication  Growing for Market magazine or any of his books or the books in their online store. I know you are going to love this interview as much as I did. Remember to share this episode with a friend!


The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution: High-Production Methods for Small-Scale Farmers

Greenhouse and HoophouseGrower'sGuide

The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture

Andrew Mefferd is editor of Growing for Market magazine.


He has spent 15 years working on farms in six states, including a year working on a no-till research farm, and worked for seven years in the research department at

Johnny’s Selected Seeds .

He travels around the world consulting with researchers and farmers on the best practices in greenhouse growing and sustainable agriculture. He is the author of The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook, and has a passion for promoting local farming movements. He lives and farms in Cornville, Maine.

Greenhouse and HoophouseGrower'sGuide

The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture

coupon code for your listeners for either the book or a subscription!


New Society willing to give away a book its really up to you to decide how to give the book away!!

I’m so excited to hear that because I usually would give the copy you gave me away but it’s one of the ones I really want to keep in my library. Well I love my listeners that’s amazing! They are all dedicated to growing a greener future by saving the planet not just growing food but growing an organic oasis.

I’m not from Maine, and moved here and love it! So I feel I can recommend it.

Maine is going to have its bicentennial, the little town we live in was founded in the 1800s

very old

small farm state

because we don’t have the big expanses of land, like out west

the place was carved up into little farmsteads 

and it’s not flat

remains that way.

a lot like the farm I live on

  • house and a barn
  • 30-40 acres of open land
  • Another 70 or something of woods

People farm and get their firewood

it could be a good deal

sounds like a fixer upper

You would have to do things to it, I think that as long as you know that going into it, and 

Yesterday even my mom went to a CBD oil place with her buddies, we are thinking we could have a hemp field and we are thinking the building could be a school. We could have some vegetables but mostly hemp. IDK it’s the first place we’ve ever thought of moving to from our place… who knows it could be sold by now. Let’s talk about you!


Tell us a little about yourself.

Yeah sure! I would say that I grew up in the state of VA in northern up close to Washington DC

where it’s very suburban. My entry point into farming really was through gardening. We had a garden there were I grew up in VA and I had a farm one generation back in my family. My dad’s mom had a fairly large farm in PA

As I grew up I got more and more interested in the growing side of things, which started out as a garden. We had this compost pile for years at my house

sort of Mount Compostmore!

kept piling stuff up and up

huge compost pile and finally I said we should have a garden! One of myfirst gardening experiences was spreading the compost out! 

We were, we wanted to have a garden and ended up just spreading the compost pile on the garden site

We spread it out and it ended up being a really great garden! 

I love that story! You don’t ave to have a garden to save your compost maybe you will down the line!


Compost is like fine wine

the older it gets the better it is. 

We just wanted to get ready to have a garden


organic matter

filing it up

sitting there rotting and when we were ready to have a garden!

there it was

that was kind of my entry point

as I got more and more interested in growing

I thought that I wanted to have a farm

I went to school for journalism and my first few jobs as apprenticeship in journalism I was in a cubical all day long

this is not what I want to do

I want to be outside

talking to my brother about organic food. I had always 


blissfully assumed that that government was making food safe

whatever is sprayed on the food is safe

talking to my brother 

I can’t believe they let you spray that on food!

it made the most sense to work on a farm in the neck of the woods

the apprentice circuit

Did an apprenticeship on a farm in Pennsylvania

not wanting to spend all day in a cubicle

met my wife there and we did what she calls the apprentice circuit

That fall at the end of the apprenticeship in PA we took a road trip and visited farms in the country

Ended up picking a farm in California, so we went straight to the fall season on a farm in AA

started a


jan 21st one of the first jobs was 

  • bucking up the olive wood into firewood

from there we went to Washington state

research farm for VA tech

We did start a farm in PA and that’s a long story and we loss the use of that land

  • bounced around
  • more apprenticeships in upstate in NY and then up to Maine and actually out on the coast of Maine

now I do live on a farm in Cornville, Maine

this is

our farm is about 45 min from Johnny’s research farm which is longer then I wanted to commute and we live in a rural area

that’s like where we are

  • rural people can relate
  • a lot of suburban people can relate because

which is like northern VA I just couldn’t take that too much time in the car

mainly to farm

one thing a lot of growers do is to work for johns in the winter

if you called into Johnny’s and said you were a potential grower I would have potentially helped you make that order and this job in the research department became available

running trials on different and tomatoes are my spirit crop

I applied for it and I sure enough I got that

I ended up at Johnny’s for seven years in the research department running trials on tomatoes

I ended up getting into greenhouse trialling as well

as you know the national

funding a lot of high tunnels

increasing demand for recommendations

People would build one and call us up at Johnny’s and saying I got my high tunnel up now what do I plant in it and 

that led to my first book

Greenhouse and HoophouseGrower'sGuide

The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture

because not only was I putting a lot of energy for Johnny’s but also putting a lot of it into our own farm when you consider that we moved from Pennsylvania to Maine.

My favorite thing is tomatoes

place where you have a nice long growing season to a place where in my mind it’s not commercially worthwhile

They take so long to ripen, our season is so short.

I think that’s a lot like us but now isn’t Jean Martin Fortier north of you or is his season different? I know he says greenhouse tomatoes are his number one crop in his book:

MarketGardenerBookThe Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming

His season is probably similar. That’s why he’s growing them in a hoophouse, I know he has a nice greenhouse too. I think that’s it, growers in these northern areas really need to use season extension to make those crops profitable.

Here we have all the

  • diseases
  • heat humidity
  • splits

and to make matters worse you can’t plant them in the field to June, by the time those big beefsteaks are starting to ripen the weather’s cooling back off

lots of gardeners grow large fruited tomatoes up here, but it’s the kind of thing where you are a commercial growers trying to make a profit it

If you only pick

That’s a decision we made and what I know most of the commercial growers are producing them indoors.

i have been to one of his places, he is more or less due west, we’re in central Maine and he’s just over the border from NY. I would guess that he has a similar climate

There’s a lot of demand for those local tomatoes

I think protected culture instead of trying to grow them. 

I think it’s his hoophouse tomatoes. 

I continue to be obsessed with greenhouse tomatoes but I did leave Johnny’s to take over the Magazine, Growing for Market  which is something I had written for from time to time, leading up to taking it over.

IDK how familiar your readers are

We are now in our 28th year

Lynn Byzanski, she started as a flower farmer in Kansas

She wrote the book:

Flower Farmer Book Lynn Byczynski

The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers, 2nd Edition

I remember buying that book 15 years ago when I was at VA Tech, getting close to the part of start of our farm,

She started the magazine 28 years ago now

3 years ago she was ready to pass it on, asked me if I would be interested

When I asked her why, she said cause I was already writing for the magazine

I thought it was a great opportunity

small publication

not affiliated

kind of like a family business

she wanted someone to take it over that was writing for the magazine so they would continue to do so

editor to write for it

since I was already


Growing for Market – for direct to market farmers  

It’s something we subscribe to for over a decade and really the only publication specifically for direct-to-market farmers.

  • farmers market
  • farm stand
  • CSA
  • those kind of things

I loved it! I wanted somebody to take care of it! It might as well be me! 

I wanted something 

  • it was a good change
  • I have young kids
  • that has allowed me to cut down time

if you’re readers are

we still do a paper magazine



if they prefer to make I did make a coupon code for your listeners

Organic Gardener Podcast discount code: garden

all lowercase

The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution- High-ProductionMethodsforSmall-ScaleFarmersGrowingForMarket

Flower Farmer Book Lynn Byczynski


They can get 20% off the no-till book, the Flower Farmer or that discount can be applied to any subscription!

They can try it out for a little less. 

also if people want us to send a sample issue they can just contact us we’re always happy to send a digital or printed issue

digital if people prefer to listen online

oriented towards small commercial growers

but on the other hand serious home gardeners and homesteaders are going to 

want all the same advantages a commercial grower wants.

It is, it has great tips and things, we were finally able to subscribe this year. I think I saw the book in the first issue and said I need to reach out to you and I’m so glad I did. It’s so nice of you to give a discount to my listeners! Thank you so much!

it is a great

when I’m telling people about something

sweeten the pot

if people hear about this it might be a little easier for them to read the book.

I know how much time it takes, I have been trying to make a Golden Seeds magazine but who has the time.

Let’s talk about your book!

I should say, what I was studying when I worked at VA tech was no till

what I

before I worked at the research farm I was working on a big farm

It was about 100 acres of organic vegetables close to Seattle

maybe they had 80 acres in cover


To me that’s a really big farm

The way they handled their weeds was a with cultivation

I’m not a tractor guy

good to learn how to drive one

I don’t want to spend my days in a cubical and I don’t want to spend my days on a tractor 

I realized after spending all day on a tractor

I’m a plant person

figure out how to try to make them happy is what I am in it for

better way to control these weeds

15 years ago if you put no till into the search engine you would get what i call the roller crimper method

  • 15 years ago if you put no-till into the search engine you would get what i call the roller crimper method in the book, which was something that was pioneered by the

  • at VA tech

since what I was doing at the time was going off and working on farms in the summer time and I had this job close there in VA that would take me back every winter because I was trying to make some money trying to save money to start a farm

contacted this professor

his name was Ron Morse I’m interested in learning how to control my weeds with less tractor work. He invited me to the research farm was and he was very generous with his time the end he offered me a job. 

He wanted people who were interested and cared about it.

I accepted becasue I was about a year away and I thought great I’m gonna learn this method and that’s what I’m gonna do.

roller crimper method

does not scale down real well. I’m thinking if it’s the Organic Gardener Podcast they’re farming on a smaller scale but what I realized with the roller crimper method is it doesn’t really scale down.

We started out leasing 3 acres from my grandma, and that was really too small to use the roller crimper method.

I’m going to quickly go over the idea of the roller crimper method which is to grow a

  • lush cover crop with a lot of biomass
  • use a special implement

Usually on a tractor but you can get one for a walk behind tractor like a BCS

roll the crop down implement that looks like a 50 gallon drum on its side but instead of being smooth it has these fins every few inches.

I wondered because in the pics it looks like a drum

basically like a drum, with these fins on it, they put a little crimp, a kink in the stem of the cover crop. If you’ve ever seen a lush crop of rye or rye in with vetch 

they don’t want to die, they’re very lush

if you just roll them down to

they don’t want to die

the problem is if you just roll them down, they might actually pop back up again

at the right stage

have the little crimpers on there

it’s the way you can organically kill a very lush cover crop but timing is really important


they kink the stem

interrupt the flow

I felt like when I read your book the number one key that seemed to permeate in all the stories was timing 


The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution: High-Production Methods for Small-Scale Farmers

they all have timing but the roller crimper method is especially sensitive to timing

typically say to do it when the crop is in flower because if it hasn’t flowered yet the crop has a much more chance of springing back up. If it’s been in flower too long where if it sets seed

you’ll be planting your own weeds

Only one planting window in the spring

most small farmers you’re doing multiple pantings

maybe planting

  • salad mix every single week
  • radishes
  • turnips

No to say that it doesn’t work to have one big planting window in the spring

It didn’t work for the style of farming we were doing

If I were planting

  • a pumpkin patch
  • big planting of outdoor tomatoes

establish a cover crop

What you are doing is you are growing your mulch in place! You get a good cover crop established and you grow it dow you get this residue that is dead laying on top of the soil.,

It’s just the same as mulching with straw but it’s as if you grew the hay or straw in place. It’s probably the method of least interest to your listeners. If they want to grow a big pumpkin patch etc they could get my book or there are a lot of resources out there on the crimper method, in fact Rodale wrote a book called Organic No-Till Farming: Advancing No-Till Agriculture: Crops, Soil, Equipment

bit it exclusively focuses on the roller crimper method ~ I did a few interviews and tried to lay it out  but it seems like it is probably of the least interest to small famers and backyard gardeners alike.

Organic No-Till Farming: Advancing No-Till Agriculture: Crops, Soil, Equipment

bit it exclusively focuses on the roller crimper method ~ I did a few interviews but it seems like it is 

A lot of my listeners are backyard gardeners who have been gardening for a long time, maybe have their master gardener certification and are interested in becoming growing their own produce or developing market farmers, or creating green jobs around that like becomeing a seed saver. That was one of the things I thought was so great because it talked about all these different techniques and farms out there. 

if people are familiar with

  • lasagna gardening
  • layering mulches
  • building up from the soil
  • digging your amendments into the soil

very similar to that

my methodology for little bit

when we started our farm almost 15 years ago now

I really forgot about no-till

When I realized it didn’t really apply to what we were doing.


  • started a farm
  • had kids

It didn’t apply to our immediate situation

a couple of years ago we started having some articles about no-till in the magazine

In particular there was one article about growers who are using a few defiant methods

I said these people figured it out! I want to adapt my farm to their methods and I said, alright where’s the source?

I started looking for a book on a small farm scale

I could not find one comprehensive resource

I set out to write the book I wanted to read!

So the way I did that was through interviews! 

I was familiar with and interested in working on the no till research farm

all these methods that growers 

many had developed them on their own

there is no one way to do no till

If you look at the book there are a number of different methods and many farmers use more then one method

so I thought there’s no way to write the book on no till

I went to interview people 

about 20 interviews

most of them on farm

whenever I could

17 made into the book

there’s a brief method sort of laying out the methods, 

you get to hear from a couple, few farmers about one method and then another method

that was the most valuable thing

  • different climates
  • soils
  • pests
  • crops

I wanted to really hear it from the horses mouth

how people developed these systems and when to use them

different people are gonna want to use different methods depending on where they are

the only 2 examples

southern half of the country

I think the reason we’re seeing deep start mulch in the southern half of the country is their problem is things getting to hot and they can use a light color straw to help their crop from overheating

Where in the north the problem is more how to get enough heat

it’s gonna cool the soil down

one thing I can say about the methods is that a lot of them have one way people establish their gardens with no till and then maybe another way people keep them going

one of the other big difference about no-till in the more tillage based system

non biological

  • plastic mulches
  • landscape fabrics

nonbiodegradable when the crop is not growing

a lot of farms and gardens

to both suppress weeds to warm soil

landscape fabric buy holes prepunched

  • flame weeder
  • knives to just cut holes

got the crop growing theory a nun biodegradable mulch

In no till the time those methods are deployed is before the crop to prep the soil


which is a fancy word for tarping

put a tarp down for long

soil life is going to come up and leave it on for a long time you are gonna get a blank slate

if you walked out on your lawn and

picked that bucket up you would have a perfectly clean disc of soil where that bucket was

works on that principal of depriving any vegetation it of light and keep it warm it will kill it and then the soil life will come up and eating

most common ways will prepare the soil

the problem is

I have a field or lawn, you can’t plant in the grass

I want to plant something in it

the first problem with no till is how do I 

tarping is one of those ways


same thing as occultation except using clear plastic

confine the greenhouse effect

  • used greenhouse plastic
  • construction plastic
  • sandbags or something to put the plastic down

What I’ve heard is if you have a sunny day in the 70º

that will kill their bed in 24 hours but if you are dealing with sod or established soil it’s gonna take longer then that

start prepping the soil

turnover from one crop to the next

put down the clear tarp for 24 hours

cut out all those steps of rototilling

basically go at the end of a crop

kill any weeds that might be growing there with a clear tarp then do whatever they do to replant

  • add more fertilizer
  • add compost

and so

so that’s what I mean about using one method to prep the soil and then a lot of times they are using either 

  • a deep compost mulch

once they’ve killed the weeds that are on their plot with either solarization or occultation then they continue to suppress the weeds with 

4-6” of compost

That’s a typical number when they are starting the system

makes it grow almost regardless of how bad your soil isno matter how bad it is

they were thinking with only one or 2% organic matter it’s basically clay

With the perspective that I have to stir enough organic matter into my clay to get it into the high single digits it would take you years to get there but what they are doing is they are just layering it on

not uncommon to talk to growers to kill the weeds with solarization or occultation

4-6 inches of compost

will suppress

that much compost has a lot of fertility in it

That’s a way people can build a raised bed and regardless of making raised beds or growing in the late have soil fertility and continuing weed suppression all in one

Most growers did not keep putting on that much organic matter, many growers had gotten their on into the low teens

sounds like a problem most backyard gardeners would like to have

some I talked to they even

had a problem with the plants blowing over

soil was so high in organic matter, almost like potting soil it was almost like organic matter

found out what was too much organic matter, so they stopped adding organic matter, they dropped it to let it come on down on closer to ten percent

on has so many beneficial effects on anything that wants to grow

adding compost is to increase that level of organic matter

what I have heard so many times they doing the right things

  • adding compost
  • cover coping

but their organic matter levels are not going up and I think what happens there is that tillage burns up your organic matter

That’s why tillage is effective it’s a slate wiper

If you’ve got a weedy bed or a long there, for one thing tillage can help kill whatever is going there but what it does is it whips an unnatural amount of air that high amount of oxygen is it and increases the rate of decomposition which releases nutrients!

But increased rate of decomposition happens at the expense of our organic matter and also releases carbon dioxide!

combines with the carbonatious parts of the plants

you’re losing the carbon from your soil and it’s going the last place you want it to be which is up into the atmosphere!

I talked to when they stopped tilling they finally saw their organic matter level come up

  • one step forward
  • one step backwards

kind of thing

Oh, we’re adding cover crops and compost which are fantastic things and increasing that organic matter, but when you are doing a lot of tillage you are burning it back up, not seeing it go up lets say on your soil test 

because you’re adding it and burning it up so it’s a way to increase the amount of organic matter which will make things grow better but also it will sequester some carbon

Keep that carbon down in the soil where we want it to be

so thats why in the book, I think it’s equally about 

  • climate change
  • farm profitability
  • about making things grow better

because it should help all of those things

Can I ask a question? So last year, I grew a cover crop of buckwheat, and when it flowered and I chopped it down, and left it sit there, if I broadforked it in and turned it in, is that still distrubing the armor that’s where I’m confused?

Yes, good question you’re referring to the armor on the soil

people talked about

Gabe Brown

Dirt To Soil by Gabe Brown https://amzn.to/2BAMQ5f

wrote a book called

Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture

I can recommend to readers on no till

he’s definitely on the larger scale up in North Dakota on 5000 acres

his method involves livestock and rotation

that’s a concept I’ve heard him and

the idea is that we have a lot more erosion and the soil gets beat up

soil doesn’t want to be bare

There are not many places in nature where you find bare soil except maybe after a landslide, soil wants to be protected with vegetation

really what you’re describing is almost a version of the roller and crimping


it sounds like you chopped it down, what you are describing is very similar to the growers in the book who are using the roller crimper method you’re just chopping it down instead of rolling and crimping

What these growers would do is get this lush cover crop growing and then kill it mash it down

transplant it straight into

It’s a very different look then people are used to, this sort of chocolate soil


perfectly fluffed and weed free

I was gonna say that the pictures in your book are awesome and illustrate the concepts very well

in most cases I was there

let me bug them in their busy season like in July and August when they’re really busy

There’s a picture of a farmer who roller crimped


These long beds covered in all this organic matter, nothing anyone would normally plant into and 

what he’s done

killed that rye took a  shovel full of soil out and put a tomato plant in the hole

Your question about the broad fork is a really good one, because one of the questions I get frequently

How untilled is no-till?

it’s not an orthodoxy, at least not to me

I’m gonna let people call whatever they’re doing what ever they are going to call it.

my goal with the books is not that every person stops tilling

I want people to see what the advantages are of no till

it’s not an orthodoxy to my mind

if I can even show growers to reduce tillage even if they don’t get completely to no tillage

that would be a huge benefit to growers to just find ways to

till less!

There are definitely individual approaches there. There are some growers who take a no steel in the field approach, almost don’t do anything mechanical with the soil

Christmas Broad Fork from Amazon! garden tool

I love our broadfork!

a lot of the growers do use a broad fork

As you know many things may become compacted, so the broadfork is a noninvasive way to fluff up the soil when it gets compacted

as far as I’m concerned a broadfork it’s game on for no till

tillage means deep disturbance of the soil

  • mold board plowing
  • deep rotor tilling

when your broad forking

not killing all the microorganisms

unless your really aggressive with it you’re not really disturbing

  • leaning back on it
  • fluffing the soil without turning the top of the soils

a lot of growers use broadforks

A lot of growers are using a tilther

I think it was developed by Eliot Coleman with johnnies


small scale

too much to comport it to a rototiller

1/2 as wide as a 30 “ bed

handles while you’re using it

has tines like a rototiller

whole thing is powered by a cordless drill

it’s such a non-invasive tillage implement that it can be powered by a cordless drill

not made specifically by no-till but picked up upon by no-tillers, 

if you have a pretty clean bed

one of the methods these growers were using to flip a bed

to go from one crop to another

with crops like carrots or beets there’s very little residue left all you have left is weeds, because you harvested

taken the whole plant

broccoli or lettuce

a lot of residue on the bed

some plant material from the crop

cutting it out with knives or something else just to get the organic matter off top of bed

once they get the

  • fairly clean bed spread 
  • fertilizer
  • compost

some stop there they use enough compost that is fine enough to rake direct seed

growers who are using less compost maybe need finer bed

direct seeding salad mix

most things you want a fine seed bed

growers who don’t get a normal bed turnover

go back with a tilther and smooth out the top half inch of the soil

inches down not like a rototiller

mixing everything out

smoothing out

tilther is one thing people are finding very useful

strategy they are using

power harrow also known as a rotatory harrow

if listeners aren’t familiar

rototiller has that egg beater over and over, the shaft on a power harrow are vertical 90 degrees to the soil

power harrow can stir or rough up the soil without stirring or flipping the surface of the soil down lower

I should say the people who are using the power harrow

tractor version

run as shallow as possible so they get as little of the soil as possible so they get maybe 

an inch of the soil

running them as shallowly as possible

that kind of runs the gamut with the tools they using 

I know some people feel it’s important that they are not using power harrow

Im not hear to judge, I just wanted to see what people are doing and have this book be a smorgasbord

Growers can read it and say this technique is going to give people the options

everything in the books is pretty legit, there’s just different ways of doing no-till

some people what to be completely non-mechanized and others want to be efficient

like machinery

found was to scale up more

incorporate walking tractors and equipment like that, that was the most interesting thing to me

I love farm tours

every farmer has their own way to grow so it was interesting for me to go out there and be able to pick these  growers brains and talk about it in the book 

my idea was that people would read it and not think this is the way to do no till

 but pick and choose from the various methods and cobble things together

thinking beyond tillage

paradigm almost every farm does tillage

large fields tilled up

a lot of advantages for people to consider not tilling they might even be better off without it!

It’s just great getting all of this information out there! Find out all of the ways to do it, you’ve picked such a great diverse groups of farmers, there’s flower farmers and different farms, I had interviewed Denise and Tony Gaetz from Bare Mountain Farm, i didn’t realize they were no-till. 

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?

It’s funny you ask that because it’s tillage

I’m not an equipment guy

I hated the day you pulled the oat crop out and you got out of the tractor

till everything up

got to this point

plus it’s a waste of time

if you could go from crop to crop, without having to make a bunch of passes over the bed

That’s how farmer’s look at it you have to

  • plow
  • potentially disc harrow
  • spring tooth harrow
  • rototill

that’s 4 passes right there some people do more passes there

regardless of what scale your on

crop a and the next crop

It’s not like I don’t like rototilling which I don’t but

it’s kind of the signature innovations of these farms is they would go from one crop to the next crop within 24 hours

would strive to do it within the same day

  • clean
  • cut out some organic matter
  • sprinkle on some fertilizer and compost
  • broadfork it ready to replant

Not only does it save time, but it saves manual labor, energy etc. It allows you to free you up time and energy to focus on something else…I think you were saying it’s kind of a mindset change but over time the benefits just keep increasing and increasing the longer they do it!

it does conducer a mindset change

the bed turnovers

most soil has tons of weeded in it

perpetuating cycle

expose a fresh new crops of weed seeds every year that we do that, it’s a cycle that we cultivate and tilling to stop the seeds we keep cultivating and tilling to 

there are its true that

after people make the decision to stop tilling

once they work the seed bank

weed pressure goes down over time

maybe hard

the first year of two was harder going no till

benefits just build and build

weed seed bank into your soil

gets better and better over time

I have one other question? My husband has a problem with quack grass. Is that what you call a perennial weed. I talked to this gardener in Missoula which is like a 70k population and she joked that teh weed stretched from one end of town to the other.

that’s it

just have to change your

I’m glad you brought that up

that ended up the pain

more for getting the plots established

long term problem

some of these perennials

  • johnson grass
  • crab grass
  • dock
  • Canadian thistle

deeply rooted

can survive one period of trapping or solarization


put a tarp down on an area for prepping

month or two

It would kill off the annual weeds


die under the farm

weeds germinate

no sun

taken out a whole generation of surface weeds but there are some docks and grasses etc that can survive a pretty long time

they have root reserves


occultation or soleration

Growers would have to find some other way to deal with those

in some cases

if they want a really quick start . One method we talk about the cardboard method

pernicious weed problems consider trying to, it would still be worthwhile to prep the area with some polarization

Put down a layer of cardboard

if they are doing a fine seed

compost on top

seed directly into the compost

transplanted crops  it might be like 

  • put the compost down
  • cardboard
  • wood chips

transplant though the cardboard

biodegradable mulch ~ cardboard that is going to last to smother out most of those perennial weeds

comes to mind depends on what kind of 

perennial weeds

people are going to have to take that into consideration

strong enough that they can up thought 4-6 inches of compost

That’s part of the value of seeing the book you can see how different growers dealt with perennial weeds definitely a problem with that but its 

definitely problem for getting things started

shouldn’t have to deal with it again

If seeds for those things blow in they are much easier to control when they are small


bank in

much less then most people dealing with in tillage

good for gardeners, most of the methods

all the methods except for the roller crimper

scaled down almost infinitely

test patch really as small as you want

If somebody’s listening to this, I’ve got my garden doing it for years less weeds, but maybe they’re a little skeptical

keep gardening the rest of the garden the way they want to is they can start a little no till patch and then easily expand it

I think that’s one of the benefits

low cost

doesn’t require any equipment or anything

low and no investment method that can be tried on a small scale

and expand if they wanted to

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden? Grow tomatoes?

I like doing all the maintenance

pruning and trellising

picking them too

growing them to get to that point

more and less favorite is maintaining and picking my tomatoes is my thing

What is the best gardening advice you have  ever received?

the funny thing

I’m glad you asked that

I feel like most of us here have heard for years that tillage was bad for the soil but there wasn’t any alternative That’s why I am so excited about the info in the book, because it’s been like I’m not supposed to till so what am I supposed to do?

operating profitable farms

when I do think about organic growing

it’s all about healthy soil

advice of the day

tillage is bad for the soil and that advice led me to how to get around tillage.

my listeners know I love this. I’m so big on creating green jobs I think you have found a solution and I love that you made a book, I think a lot of this info is out on youtube, and you put it in a book, I’m not the biggest fan of videos, that’s why I’m a podcaster.

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.

Especially in the context of no till is the context of a tarp

adapt some of the idea on my farm is a tarp

how passive they are in a way becasue I had one of the growers in the book

when he wants to break in a new field, and the previous season

if he wants another 1/4 acre of field 

Maybe not even that much field

I variety of tarps over the years

last fall before the snow flew, I put down some tarps in some areas that I wanted to reclaim as a garden. I put it down walk away, I did have to put sand bags and cinderblocks to keep them from blowing away. Now it’s been there for months! 

better it’s gonna be

put a tarp down for a moth or two

tarps down on my place from last year, just sitting there under the snow, all ready when I pull them back, hoping that i find there’s nothing growing down there. What I plant on doing is 

  • putting down fertilizer
  • compost

That’s it I hope!

That was a big takeaway I took from your book!

I think in some areas it’s more common to prep in the fall

we get so much snow, a lot of farmers talk about here, once it melts

fields tend to get really muddy

when are they gonna get on their field

all this snow has a layer of frost in the soil, preventing moisture from going down.

all farmers talk about in the spring here is when

This takes this whole equation on, and you’re beholden to when you are gonna get your tractor on, because ti’s muddy, the impulse is to plant

restrain yourself to get on there without the tractor slipping

something I want to go more towards

Once I have this system going what I have is I am 

reclaiming an old garden space

have tarps down

if I get this system going I could do my bed prep in the fall

put my bed in fall and then in the spring!

not even have to do do bed prep just plant!

tarp can

farm tool

 can also be used as a place holder

if you have harvest something

don’t have something to put there right way or your busy and you don’t plant something, what’s gonna grow there? weeds

tarp is a way

not gonna get to that spot for a while

keep doing its job of warming up the soil, killing them when seeds germinate

IDK if it stuck out to me more because I just did an interview with Mandy Gerth. Mike has what I call the minifarm, that we developed a few years ago, a lot of the spots he was going to put the green beans etc that can’t go in till later frost he could have those tarps there so the weeds don’t grow and also maybe get it ready sooner because it would warm the soil too here in Montana for things that have to 

Yes! Warm that soil up, get it ready sooner! Get all that biological activity going! I’d say really through the righting of the soil if you are using organic fertilizer, regardless of what your fertility source is you need that biological activity to keep making it available. Get all the soil life going before you put your crop in there I think is brilliant!

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

that’s hard I like to cook. I’m trying to think to make with tomatoes is a 

tomato pie

I think this is a southern or southeastern recipe

You take a pie crust, you have to dry out tomatoes

One of the things in summer has arrived when we can make a tomato pie. You basically layer

  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • basil

in a pie crust and make a topping

cheese and mayonnaise which sounds weird but even my wife who doesn’t like mayonnaise likes it, something happens when you bake it!

She likes the tomato pie!

We all like the tomato pie and it’s just really delicious and its a way to eat a lot of tomatoes too!

I think Lisa Ziegler talked about that!

A favorite internet resource?

well lets see I like growing for market.com a lot. We have over 1500 articles have bene archived, what happens when a magazine first comes out the articles are available as the full magazine but we archive them and we make them into stand alone html documents

People can search the website on whatever and see what we have talked about

  • no-til
  • parsnips

people looking at I spend so much time there.

I thought you were gonna say Johnny’s Selected Seeds . But you know what the search bar is what I use the most on the Organic Gardener Podcast

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?


Growing for Market

I’m trying to think of something that is pretty universal. I really like Gabe Brown’s

Dirt To Soil by Gabe Brown https://amzn.to/2BAMQ5f

Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture

I’ve been trying to get him to come on, but he hasn’t answered yet.

Final question-

if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

The thing that worries me the most is climate change

all the predictions on that have turned out to be worse, it’s progressing faster then anybody thought it would. I have a 5 year old little girl and 7 year old boy and I am very worried about what the world is going to be like that they are going to inherit. 

I do think no-till as a means of sequestering carbon

one of the reasons I’m so interested, when I first got into it 15 years ago, it was really me not wanting to spend my whole day on the tractor kind of perspective but now it’s more 

we need to stop taking our soil out of soil into the atmosphere

I got an excellent forward who has done some writing for the magazine is that a lot of the carbon over the last 200 years comes from agriculture

burning fuels in ag

we’re burning up the organic matter in our soil

double whammy because it contributes to climate change and makes our soils worse

deep soils

you can do that for a relatively long time

seeing the damage

places in Maine, where I live we don’t have very deep topsoil becasue they were scraped away by the glaciers

organic matter in our soil

seeing it really quickly

doing the things we can do to combat climate change those are the things that are the most important because 

enormous farming

small farming and gardening

part of the problem

developed a system of agriculture where people are fed by systems that are very far flung. The economics of agriculture dictate that you grow crops where they grow the best naturally. Then transport them to where they need to be. You have an energy and carbon intensive farming system with an energy and carbon intensive transportation system is getting

far as the magian goes

I feel like one good thing I can do for the health of the people is to encourage small farming to come back

If we have a more diverse small farming network and think if everywhere people are living people are eating

more ecologically is going to help on both of those sides 

friendly method

close to where it’s eating


from our soils releasing carbon into our atmosphere

for me promoting local farming

what we do with the magazine is one of the most important things I can do to offer climate change!

Andrew you have been such an amazing guest! Did you mention that you were going to give a copy of the book away. 

The publisher New society was gonna offer a book away!

How do we connect with you?


check it out.

some content, we are an old fashioned publication been around for 30 years

we try to essentially keep the magazine wall to wall ads

So you have to subscribe to see the whole thing


The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution: High-Production Methods for Small-Scale Farmers

Andrew Mefferd

The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture

Andrew Mefferd is editor of Growing for Market magazine.

Growing For Market Books

carefully organic no-till farming revolution

also selling Gabe Brown’s Book

code is garden


subscribers always do get 20% off books

To win a copy of Andrew’s Book answer this poll where you can enter the raffle. And remember you can get a 20% discount by using the code: garden on a subscription to Andrew’s awesome publication  Growing for Market magazine or any of his books or the books in their online store. I know you are going to love this interview as much as I did. Remember to share this episode with a friend!

The Organic Gardener Podcast is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors and affiliate links

Please support us on Patreon so we can keep the show up on the internet. It cost close to $100 a month just to keep it up on the internet for the website etc so if you could help by supporting it with an $8/month contribution or $10/month to join the Green Future Growers Book Club where we can delve deep into some of the best gardening books that have been recommended on the show! GoDaddy even is bugging me for dollars just to have the domain name…

OGP Patreon Page Green Future Grower Book Club


Health IQ Logo

The Organic Gardner Podcast is sponsored by Health IQ, an insurance company that helps health conscious people like runners, cyclists, weightlifters and vegetarians get lower rates on their life insurance.  Go to healthiq.com/OGP to support the show and see if you qualify.

Over half of Health IQ customers save between 4-33% on their life insurance.

Health IQ vegetables celebrating the health conscious

  • Health IQ uses science & data to secure lower rates on life insurance for health conscious people just like you green future growers! Like saving money on your car insurance for being a good driver, Health IQ saves you money on your life insurance for living a health conscious lifestyle.


To see if you qualify, get your free quote today at healthiq.com/OGP or mention the promo code OGP when you talk to a Health IQ agent

Good Seed Company Seeds

The Good Seed Company

Now Let’s Get to the Root of Things!

Organic Gardening Podcast Group

We’d love if you’d join  Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Community!

The Organic Gardener Podcast is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

If you like what you heard on the Organic Gardener Podcast we’d love it if you’d give us review and hopefully a 5 star rating on iTunes so other gardeners can find us and listen to. Just click on the link here.

Remember you can get the  2018 Garden Journal and Data Keeper to record your garden goals in ourhttps://amzn.to/2lLAOyo

You can  download the first 30 days here   while you’re waiting for it to come in the mail. 

Organic Gardening Podcast Group

We’d love if you’d join  Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Community!

If you like what you heard on the Organic Gardener Podcast we’d love it if you’d give us review and hopefully a 5 star rating on iTunes so other gardeners can find us and listen to. Just click on the link here.

About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

Leave a Comment