2018 Week 33, Summer CSA Pick-up 11 of 26
It's my favorite time of the year -- cover crop time! Cover crops -- AKA green manures -- are the crops we grow to replenish the soil before the cash crop we grow to eat. Maybe it's the green-ness in fall or spring, or the density of planting, or the good it does for the land, but cover crops make me happy.
Although I am working on a row-crop living mulch system, where most of the soil is permanently inhabited, annual cover crops still have their place. For instance, last week I seeded a mix into the first field of Austrian Winter Pea (nitrogen fixation), Buckwheat (nutrient scavenging and mineral accumulation), and Tillage Radish (pan fracturing and nutrient scavenging). This grows quickly, regenerates and maintains soil nutrition for next spring, leaves little carbonaceous residue to interfere with an early seeding of the living mulch mix (10+ species of legumes, grasses, and herbs of various stripes and purposes), and otherwise prepares the field for the spring broccoli-family crops, and the first corn, tomatoes, and squash. (Was that a one breath sentence?)
Cover crops are how we break the plough pan, add nitrogen, add carbon in its various forms, maintain volatile nutrients over the winter, protect against erosion, feed soil life, mine deeper nutrients, ramify the soil for water infiltration, and otherwise power and protect the farm. In our young case, it's also part of how we rebuild the land from eroded clay into soil. While this field's mix only grows a few months before frost, the spring mix will stay for four years. Imagine what we can do in that amount of time with the right mix of species!
At the pick-up this week, I will be cutting garlic down to size. Expect a bulb or so a week, while I figure-out just what's happening with the winter CSA. We will start with Shvelsi (a hardneck purple-stripe AKA Chesnok Red), then move into Music (a hardneck porcelain), and end with Silverwhite (a softneck silverskin). Mmmmm ...
Note that the chard is holier than the pope. But I'm still cutting it, as it's great for cooking. I will try a second planting next year, to follow two months after the first ... though the blister beetles eating the first might like the second just as well. We will see.
See you on the farm,
PS: It was an ailanthus webworm moth on the flower the other week.
Beans, Soy / Edamame
Blackberry *most likely
Basil, Holy, Temperate
Hot Pepper, Fresh & Dried
Mint, of some kind*
The Pickle Pile
Basil in the field ...
*New This Week