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Cole_Robbie July 12, 2015 02:16 PM

Everything came out of the early lack of blooms and is doing quite well. I sold $400 of tomatoes at market this week, which is my best week ever. That is still a paltry sum for someone trying to make money, but almost all of that production came off about 200 row-feet of plants, which is a tiny bit of space for a market garden.

This year has been the wettest summer in recorded history for my location. It turned out to be a great year to go no-till. My mom and stepdad have a couple acres of land in garden...and I just made four times what they made this week. We had seven inches of rain just this week alone, and they can't get into the field to harvest their crops, at least the stuff that hasn't rotted from all the rain. They also can't keep the grass out of their gardens. As soon as they till, it rains, and all the grass comes back again.

I think I'm finally going to convert them to doing things my way. My stepdad is green with envy that I am making more money than him. Instead of using their new tractor to till everything they can, when the summer is over, I am going to use it over the winter to build our new no-till beds.

Redbaron July 12, 2015 03:53 PM


PhilaGardener July 12, 2015 04:57 PM

Sounds like you have a great system going!

Cole_Robbie July 18, 2015 08:29 PM


Once again, I had the best day ever at market this morning, topping last week by a hundred bucks or so. I went by myself. No one else in my family had anything to sell.

I'm starting to push the limits of what a one man show can accomplish. I started picking about noon yesterday, continued until dark, and then stayed up all night washing, packing, and sorting tomatoes. With the morning of selling them, it turned out to be a 24-hour shift. No-till gardening is killing my sleep schedule :)

I had two six-foot tables full of heirloom tomatoes, mostly in beer flat boxes. I wanted to take a picture, but I was too busy dealing with customers to spare 30 seconds. I probably picked about 400 pounds or so yesterday, and a lot of that was cherries. I left four 5-gallon buckets of canners for my mom and grandmother, and there is about half a bushel of cherries ripening in my kitchen. Everything else sold at market this morning, other than the last few quart boxes, which I gave to the food pantry. They also got my biggest tomato of the year so far, which was 2 1/4 pounds, a Linda's Faux I think. I hope someone down the line gets a kick out it. I doubt they see a lot of those at the food pantry.

BigVanVader July 18, 2015 08:37 PM

Amazing Cole! Congrats on the big year, when you love what you do things just seem to work out. This has been my most productive year by far and I went no till as well. I didnt even get time to put irrigation in or I feel I would have even more tomatoes. Just curious roughly about how many cherry plants you planted and plants total? I am going to have to fit more plants into a half an acre to have enough for market on a weekly basis.

Lindalana July 19, 2015 12:59 PM

Congrats and thanks for update! Yes to no till great harvest!

Cole_Robbie July 19, 2015 03:05 PM


The bulk of my yield of cherries is coming from my two rows of the Sungold, peach, chocola, and lemon varieties. They are huge yielders. I have about 18 plants in each 45' row, and just two rows. I have another five 45' rows on the other side of my high tunnel. The cherries in those rows are mostly Fred Hempel's Artisan varieties. About 3/5 of the plants are cherries; the rest are larger heirlooms.

When I counted in the spring, I had 306 plants spread over about a thousand row feet. Many of those plants are dedicated to seed-saving, or an experiment to see if I like them. Getting seeds and selecting varieties was my top priority this year, ahead of producing for market.

Next year, I am hoping to finally be in the position of being able to sell to restaurants.

HydroExplorer July 27, 2015 10:10 PM

I talked with a no till farmer at a party the other day. He told me that the yields start out lighter but improve in time. He said it can take 7 years to get solid yields.

I don't know one way or the other but he seemed to know what he was talking about and he was successful with no till on more than 50 acres. He said his food tastes better now than it did when he was tilling. He was excited to be talking to someone who actually cared (his wife said as much lol)

Anyway... just passing that on in case it is helpful.

As for me. I just got done with a handful of ridiculously long work weeks. This year's garden has turned out to be a zero maintenance garden. My tomatoes look ridiculous (not good ridiculous). I never grew untrellised tomatoes before. Pretty silly. Surprisingly, no disease... When I finally got home early enough to see my plants I was stunned to see that they weren't all dead.

Cole_Robbie October 5, 2015 10:33 PM

I ended up culling my tomato plants early this year. I think I got septoria from the record rainfall in early summer and my plants collapsing the supports by getting so huge.

I planted green beans where the tomatoes had been. I just picked the first of them. The grass grew up around them, and I never sprayed. But yet, I had virtually zero bug damage.

They were the thickest, nicest-looking bean plants I have ever seen, loaded with beans. One curious thing about them was that they tended to grow down into the soil, which is very soft. Normally, beans rot when they do that, but all of mine were fine. I was pulling beans an inch or two out of the soil, and they were still perfect. I am theorizing that the fluffy soil holds a lot of oxygen, which would make the bacteria be more aerobic than anaerobic.

I am going to expand my garden a lot next year. I think I will have to till the ground at least once, so I can use the plastic mulch-layer and tractor to lay my plastic. I may experiment with using old hay as mulch around my existing beds.

Cole_Robbie October 17, 2015 02:37 AM

I changed my mind. I'm not going to till for now. I mowed on the mower's lowest setting, and then just started piling more buckets of black dirt to continue the ends of my rows and make them longer. All of my other beds got tilled at least once. This will be the first time growing on ground that has not been tilled in several years. It's like concrete. As far as no-till goes, this is the real deal. We shall see how it works.

I'm not going to fertilize, either, at least not for now. Everything will be on drip and black plastic. My ez-flo finally died, but I will probably buy another injector, so I can inject fertilizer just in case it's needed. I don't think it will be, though. The cow field material I am using is pretty much pure compost.

Worth1 October 17, 2015 01:19 PM

How did your EZ-Flow die?
The reason I ask is I am still working on the idea of a fertilizer injection system that is based on another technology.

Cole_Robbie October 17, 2015 01:30 PM

I left it full of water in the hot sun and it exploded. I wasn't there when it happened. It blew out big holes in each side of the tank; it looks to have been an impressive explosion.

Here is the next injector I am going to buy. Morgan County Seed builds them:

I think that injector may be used with any flow rate, because of the built-in adjustments. Every other injector I have seen, from the cheap ez-flo to the expensive Dosmatic/Dosatron, is built for a specific flow rate, or range anyway. My problem is that I would like to be able to turn different rows or zones off and on. My high tunnel is part of the system and often requires water when the outside plants don't.

Worth1 October 17, 2015 01:52 PM

I told a young guy about my idea and between the two of us we came up with something.
Now I cant remember the details.
I may have to text him and ask him what it was.
As far as individual watering and fertilizing that would be easy.
Some simple off on relay logic.
So far I dont think I am trying to reinvent the wheel.


Misfit October 18, 2015 09:21 AM

Cole... I think if you add some mulch (ie leaves) on top of the black dirt. It will get the earthworms going. It worked in my small plot, along with some egg shells and coffee grounds.

I know you're working a much bigger area.. Old hay would probably work just as well, for mulch. I noticed a dramatic difference in the concrete like soil, just after one year. I've got a 7 blend cover crop on it right now. So we'll see how year 3 tuns out. Best of luck!


Zenbaas October 18, 2015 03:12 PM

[QUOTE=heirloomtomaguy;481603]I too over did the nitrogen last year. I had these 6 ft tall beauties that had hardly a bloom. Then i found Earth Juice Bloom Master. It is water soluble 0-50-30 bat guano and steamed bone meal. I foliar sprayed my plants twice with this stuff at half strength and man oh man did the blossoms come. I had so many tomatoes after the application that i was sick and tired of picking them. I did the same to my peppers and had a bloom explosion. This stuff works awesome and as far as i can tell is the only Organic water soluble phosphorus around. An a little goes a way long way. I used a 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of water.[/QUOTE]
I love this idea. Now to look for something similar locally.

Excellent thread BTW. Lots if new concepts to take in.

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