Thursday, August 9, 2012

Crop Juggling

With the arrival of August, the momentum of the farm feels like a ship nearly halfway across the water, and what looked like an ocean in the spring turns out to more like a lake or a pond.  Though we are not quite at the halfway point, the crew is well versed in the workings of the farm, the harvest list is easy to come up with and the crops practically harvest themselves! Well not quite.
But the farm camp kids did bring in this garlic!
We have a pretty good sense of the character of the season: what is going well, and what has been a struggle.
Eggplant and peppers are explosive.
Cucumbers, haven been eaten by bugs twice, still has yet to be eaten by us! (two more weeks and we'll make up for it!)

 Its the time of the summer when we need to be thinking about how the ship will pull into port and what next season might look like.
As we rotate crops around the 9 acres of fields we think about what crops need very few weeds: Carrots! And onions!
These crops will find a home next year in our new fields, recently brought under the plow on the right side of the cabbage field, where there are very few weeds.
There are other considerations, like pests and disease pressure, timing of planting and harvesting, organic matter levels, and crop residue that all factor into the rotation decision. One third of our acres are left fallow for two years. But fallow doesn't mean they are inactive. We grow cover crops, plow them into the soil, field-cultivate a few times to kill weeds, them plant more soil-building cover crops. Here is where last year's potatoes came from:
After another full season of cover cropping, this field will jump back into the game of musical chairs. 
There are a few crops which we do not rotate. Obviously, most perennials stay where they are, but we don't move the flower field around too much either. 
Varieties get juggled around within the field, but these sunflowers only rotate their faces as they follow the sun through the sky.
There is so much diversity in plant families, and we feed the soil with lots of leaf-mulch and fertility, so that we can assure you that flowers will likely greet you as you pull up the access road for several more years in a row.
Blessings on the meal,

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