Good morning, everyone. Sorry we're a day late this week, Small Farm Central was down for us most of yesterday. I hope it's working for you all now, but if you have any issues, please contact us and we can manually create an order for you.
It's an exciting time of year as plans translate into action. An older farmer once shared this advice with me: "Everything fits on paper." All the planning is well and good, but when the rubber hits the road, it's ultimately our ability to efficiently, effectively, and consistently translate them into action that make for a successful season. And in my experience managing farms, the only way we are able to do this is by building appropriate and executable systems that can guide our practices in the frantic day-to-day work.
On that note, we've been getting busy around here. We've laid out a new irrigation system, purchased some new tillage implements for the tractor, and we've started breaking ground for the 2018 season. The weather is still too unpredictable to begin planting vegetable crops outdoors quite yet, so what we're seeding are actually "cover crops" ahead of our summer plantings. More preparations for the season ahead, but a good measure more tangible than spreadsheets.
Cover crops are not harvested for food, but provide a number of services for us in building a healthier soil and growing a more successful cash crop down the line. They reduce erosion and help suppress weeds that germinate during their growing season. Breathing in CO2, they take carbon from the atmosphere and transform it into living plant tissue. When we kill the cover crops and incorporate their residues, this carbon ends up back in the soil as organic matter that is vital to a rich soil biology and the effective transfer of chemical nutrients to our plants. Similarly legume cover crops form a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria capable of fixing nitrogen from the air into the soil. When they get tilled in, it's effectively free fertilizer plucked right out of the air.
For the spring fields on which we're preparing to grow carrots, radishes and greens, we planted cover crops last year. There were tall grasses that were killed by the cold and laid flat on the ground to insulate the ground and smother weeds. And there were low ground cover and clovers that are still growing now, nurturing the soil with carbon, sugars, and nitrogen. As we prepare to benefit from these natural cycles, we must first make sure to pay this same kind of benefit forward for our next crops. So even before carrots and onions, we're planting oats and peas to feed the soil, that will feed our tomatoes and corn, that will feed us all summer long.
And a last note, we have a new (old) item again. We have full sized mustards and Asian greens coming out of the tunnel again. We highly recommend you give them a taste. The thick stem is sturdy and pungent and the reds are super tender, mild and fresh-tasting. Take your pick and happy eating!
-Bryan and Joanna