This Week’s Harvest
Summer Squash or Zucchini
Juliet or Sungold tomatoes
Green Beans or Tomatillos
Okra (Farm pick up only)
Fruit Share: Blackberries from Berryhill Farm in Xenia and Jon-A-Licous Apples (cross between Red Delicious and Jonathan) from Downing Fruit Farm in New Madison
The big project on the farm this week is getting the fields that aren’t currently under vegetable production seeded to cover crop. Cover cropping is planting a crop that will not be harvested, but whose function is to build soil structure and fertility, control erosion, suppress weeds, add control pests. Cover crops are mowed or winter killed at a later date and all that biomass is then incorporated back into the soil. Cover crops are often referred to has “green manure”, as they build the soil in they same way compost does.
Back in April we had some heavy rain and I took a picture of a cover cropped field and the field next to it that wasn’t and the difference is remarkable. The cover cropped field is able to absorb the rain and there is no erosion. Just a few feet away, the bare field looks completely different. The soil is exposed and ends up saturated with areas of erosion.
The benefits of having this field covered cropped have continued from there. We let the rye grow nice and tall and mowed it down right before it went to seed in the beginning of May. Then in mid May we planted this field to tomatoes, summer squash, okra, peppers and eggplant. These crops have been very productive for us this year and even came out of the record rains in June and July relatively unscathed. Where other crops have suffered this year, these crops have thrived.
Every year it is struggle to get every single section of the farm cover cropped, but as we aquire more equipment and improve our systems we are making head way in this arena.
Last year Ben fixed an old craigslist purchased tractor mounted seeder and is now able to seed an entire field in a quick hour. It used to be an entire day of walking the fields with a belly mounted seeder and a hand crank!
Having experienced the benefits of cover cropping first hand (not to mention it is cheaper then spreading compost everywhere!), cover cropping becomes the priority this time of year. We must get the fields we can seeded in the next week or so! We need to seed in late summer to give the cover crop enough time to develop good growth before winter sets in. Soil management is key to a successful organic farm and we are excited for our continued improvement as farmers and stewards of the land!
Tomato sauce with Roasted Bell Peppers (roast your own bell peppers)