Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
My name is Jeff and I’ve been working on the farm for a month now and have learned a lot thus far. It’s been a great opportunity to be here and another responsibility I’ve been given is to write you an informative piece about something unique that has caught my attention at the farm. One component of farming that growers of all types, organic or not, need to contend with is soil health. There are many ways to attempt to achieve this end, however, one of the more obvious means is through applying a cover crop.
Cover crops are grown primarily to prevent soil erosion by wind and water. Cover crops may be annual, biennial, or perennial herbaceous plants grown in a pure of mixed stand during all or just part of the year. In addition to providing ground cover and, in the case of a legume, fixing nitrogen, cover crops also assist in suppressing weeds and reduce insect pests and diseases. Some examples of a winter cover crop planted in late summer or fall are hairy vetch and rye for northern states like Minnesota. Warm-season typically provide a niche in crop rotations, to improve the conditions of poor soils, or to prepare land for a perennial crop. Some examples of warm-season legumes include cowpeas, soybeans, annual sweet clover, sesbania, guar, crotalaria, and velvet beans. Non-legumes are those such as sorghum-Sudan grass, millet, forage sorghum, or buckwheat are grown to provide biomass, smother weeds, and improve soil tilth.
In searching the farm for examples of cover crops I came across a few that immediately caught my attention. There is a section of sweet clover, oats, and field peas that were broadcasted in the form of a cover crop mix. The other example is a couple of beds of green beans that have recently been mowed over and incorporated as a living mulch and green manure which will slowly release nitrogen from the beans into the soil as they decay and are tilled in. Making use of cover crops does not occur without limitations. Drought in particular inhibits the benefits accrued from nitrogen fixing from legumes, for instance. Although Norm planted the clover and peas during the spring when rain was prevalent, we have experienced a dry end of the summer and beginning of fall. What I failed to mention is what I found fascinating about an unlikely cover crop in the fields at Earth Dance Farm, which are weeds. Although weeds when growing out-of-control pose many problems such as taking away nutrients from “heavy” feeder crops, they also can provide shade and trellis for tomatoes, biomass, and improved retention of moisture in the soil. Thank you for your support and enjoy this week’s share!
- Fall Harvest Celebration Saturday October 5th 2 – 8. Come anytime
- Sign up for the fall share. Delivery dates are 11/5, 11/19, and 12/3
- Enjoy this year’s first carrots – more to follow
- Fennel this week and next. It is the vegetable of the week
- Last of the Boc Choy, watermelon and Sungolds for this season
- Winter squash begins next week with Sweet Dumpling
- Some of the Roma tomatoes may need to sit on your counter for a few days to fully ripen. These are great to cook with
- Cucumbers and peppers will last until we receive a good frost
- We canned some tomatoes and froze some corn to make chili
- Only 4 deliveries remain – #18 is on Th., October 24th
- Wash all of your produce please
Link to: Produce list-notes-recipes