Corey and Rhiannon Weidmann of Vienna Gardens | Photo: Vienna Gardens
By Sharalyn Peterson, Healthy Wildlife & Water Program Coordinator
“We are unlike a majority of farms,” says market gardener Rhiannon Weidmann, owner of Vienna Gardens, a small, organic, sustainable farm in Silver Creek, Washington. Weidmann manages Vienna Gardens with her husband Corey, which includes a total of ¾ of an acre in cultivation of vegetable and flower beds as well as a small 70 year old fruit orchard. Rhiannon and Corey do not use pesticide sprays, even if they are certified organic, nor do they use tarps, solarization or flame weeding. Instead, they rely on interplanting, crop rotation and a deep mulching system to minimize the effects of pests.
Interplanting is a growing technique often used in organic gardening that is primarily focused on maximizing crop yields, optimizing growing space and increasing the biological diversity in the garden. This is an important tool to have in your garden’s integrated pest management (IPM) plan as the use of two or more crop plantings complement each other, attracting beneficial predator and pollinator insects. Interplanting also deters detrimental pests, discourages weed growth and enhances soil fertility.1
Crop rotation is an essential component of a sustainable growing system which focuses on maintaining soil fertility and tilth while eliminating the need for a fallow period. Unlike a monoculture where a particular crop is planted repeatedly in the same field season after season, crop rotation includes growing varied crops in a systematic and recurring timeline on the same land.2
Deep organic mulching is a simple, effective way to suppress weeds by warming the soil, building its organic matter and improving its structure.3
Photos: Vienna Gardens
“When the ecosystem is how it’s supposed to be, it works and works well. If, let’s say, we have an aphid problem on the kale, and nothing is helping, that means we as market gardeners are doing something wrong. So we either tear it out, feed it to the chickens or replant. We use a lot of cardboard to kill grass, put in a soil building material (i.e. chicken coop clean out), add forest compost and wait 3 to 4 months and we can plant right into it. Row covers are your best friend, too!”
The Weidmanns’ farm is largely no-till and they have done everything by hand including cultivation and soil building. “Our soil is healthy and filled with large amounts of microorganisms, macro-organisms, fungi and all that other naturally occurring good stuff.”
Interested in learning more about the pest and weed management techniques used by Vienna Gardens? Please contact Rhiannon and Corey Weidmann at Viennagardenspnw@gmail.com.
- Shrivastava G, Rogers M, Wszelaki A, Panthee DR, Chen F. Plant Volatiles-based Insect Pest Management in Organic Farming. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences. 2010; 29(1-3):123-133.
- Liebman M, Dyck E. Crop Rotation and Intercropping Strategies for Weed Management. Ecological Applications. 1993; 3(1):92-122.
- Gheshm R, Nelson Brown R. Organic Mulch Effects on High Tunnel Lettuce in Southern New England. 2018; 28(4): 485-491.