Organic No-Till Living Mulch Intro: Weed 'Em and Reap Part 2


Weed 'Em and Reap Part 2: Reduced tillage strategies for vegetable cropping systems [DVD]. A. Stone. 2006. Oregon State University Dept. of Horticulture. Corvallis, Oregon. Available at: (verified 17 Dec 2008).


Helen Atthowe, BioDesign Farm. Stevensville, MT. 

Audio Text

I’m Helen Atthowe, BioDesign Farm, Stevensville, Montana. The field that we’re in was in hay for about 30 years, and then about eleven years ago, I started doing vegetable production. I had started in Masanobu Fukuoka's approach to minimum till, do-nothing kind of farming. Obviously, Montana was a bit more of a challenge than Japan. So what we’ve done here is tried to mimic the natural systems in Montana with quite a bit more water. We’re doing minimum till, we’re doing living mulches in between the crops so that our residue application is constant, rather than all at once in the spring.

The main crops on this farm are solanaceous crops. Basically we don’t have to market at all because solanaceous crops are hard to grow in Montana. That’s the reason I do it. Eggplants, tomatoes, green and red bell peppers are the main crops here. We throw a little broccoli in, so that we can grow something besides solanaceous crops but mainly, this farm grows solanaceous crops. We sell at Missoula Farmer’s Market and wholesale to local supermarkets in Missoula as well.

The way that I’ve designed this system is minimum labor, so I’m keeping it very small. You can see that I have very wide rows. That’s so I can get my equipment in here and mow. I do very little hand labor. We don’t weed at all. When I say “we” that’s kind of a misnomer. I don’t have as many tasks to do, and so I can run the place myself.

Organic No-Till Living Mulch Intro: Weed Em and Reap