In the Fall, I put down more compost. This summer was the first time I planted flowers in the second field so the field needed some more improvement.
My soil tests came back with a pH of 6.8 which is great for flowers. I still need to keep adding organic matter to the soil. Compost helps a lot but I am going to try to use buckwheat as a cover crop when possible in the summer.
Silage tarps help with weed suppression and erosion.
I have yarrow, snap dragons, and queen’s anne lace planted in the field which are all cool flowers. I put mulch on top of my tuberose plants to protect them from freezing temperatures.
Usually it is too wet in the spring to till; however, it has been dry this spring. I just did a light till to incorporate the compost and hardwood mulch into the soil. Since I do not have a bed maker attachment, I remade the beds by hand. All I had to do is use a rake to remake the path between the rows.
We are trying silage tarps this year to suppress weeds. We want to protect the newly tilled rows from heavy rains and weed growth. A great book to read is “The Market Gardener” by Jean-Martin Fortier. He uses silage tarps. When a harvest is complete on a row, he immediately covers it. The tarp stays on the bed for 2-4 weeks. I may try planting buckwheat cover crop in May on some of the rows that I am not using yet. After the buckwheat blooms and before it goes to seed, I would need to do a light tilling just to mix the cover crop into the soil. I would then cover the row with the silage tarp and let it decompose with the help of soil organisms.
I always keep a pile of compost on hand at the farm so I am using compost to fill the sand bags. When the bags finally break over time, it will just add more compost to the field instead of sand or gravel.
It took a lot of sand bags to hold down those silage tarps, and I am still making more sand bags. I will be planting in those rows in March and April. The field looks really good. I used a lot of cover crops in 2014 to 2016 in this field. The buckwheat and the winter rye really did a good job suppressing weeds so I am not having a lot of problems with weeds this year so far. My biggest problem is soil erosion because our land slopes in various directions.