Crop List: Cosmic Mix, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Fennel, maybe Sugar Snap Peas, Beans, Basil and/or Parsley
In last week's newsletter I touched on the cover crops we have been planting. The truth is...we went big with cover crops this year. A cover crop is planted to "cover" the soil so it is not bare, which leaves it susceptible to erosion and available for weed seeds to grow in. Cover crops also improve the microbial life in the soil, which I spoke of last week.
We have multi species cover crops in 3 places. In the garden we alternated the veggie rows with rye and vetch. In the greenhouses and in the garden paths we planted plantain, clover and grasses. The "pasture to be" is the big one, it now grows grasses, legumes, radish, turnips, collards, oats, barley, wheat, flax and chicory! It is a mix of perennials and annuals and the cows are gonna love it! The grasses need a couple of years to establish themselves but the annuals will be food for the cows this fall. The pig yard has oats, barley, wheat and winter peas in it. Our 4th cover crop is where the garlic was harvested from. It is only winter peas, since they were the only seeds we could get this time of year.
We now have more soil covered then before. I think of the forest in relation to cover crops...there is never bare soil in the natural world, you always have to dig down to find it. This is how the farm should be mostly. Most of the veggie crops are the exception, they need to have some space around them for harvesting and so the plants have enough room to grow with limited competition. But we have started to make sure the paths between garden beds have cover crops growing.
At Cosmic Apple the cover crops feed the soil and suppress weeds. Luckily for us, erosion is not a big deal because of our location (wind deposits soil, instead of taking it), and flat topography (water does not move soil). With cover crops interplanted as paths and alternating garden beds we are feeding the soil at the same time we are harvesting from it.
During our yearly organic inspection a hole was dug in a cover cropped path. The soil was moist, rich, full of worms and crumbly. It had good moisture retention and had become a soil microbe reservoir! A hole was dug in an old path that had not been cover cropped. The soil was compacted and dry...Jed said "it was not pretty."
We recently learned that soil microbes proliferate when 4 or more plant species are growing together...again the forest floor! Most farms in the US are mono-cropped.
And now to get completely geeky about soil....
Plant roots release this stuff called root exudates. The exudates come out of the roots and improve the microbial life and resist harmful microbes. Weeds (the ones that are prolific at the farm) only put 20% of their energy into the soil through root exudates. The veggies and cover crops put about 60-70% of their energy into root exudates. SOOOO what does this mean and why does it matter? Guess what else root exudates do? They sequester carbon! It's all a very complex process and I don't really understand it... people are getting Doctorates trying to explain it all kinds of papers right now!
Once again...it feels like we are on the right path trying to grow the best food. The practices that make sense to us to help get rid of the weeds are good for the earth. And as usual diversity wins.
Here's the big secret. September is the best month to volunteer. It is the month of some of the biggest shares. Help us wrap up the harvest and receive lots of veggies!!
If you (or someone you know!) is curious about high altitude gardening becoming a garden helper may be just right. We are only asking folks to commit to 1 morning a week for one month, that's 20-25 hours a month! It feels really good to have volunteers back on the farm, we missed them!! Lunch and veggies are provided! Follow the link below to check it out!
Lunch this Week: Curried Summer Squash Soup (I added fennel, peas and tomatoes)
Lifeline Cheese Update: We are sad to report Lifeline has put shipping cheese on hold. They are too short-staffed and are having difficulty getting shipping supplies. When they are able to ship again, the prices will reflect the increase in shipping fees. Lifeline has been a staple in our lives for 20+ years and we are anxious for its return.
The coolers at your site are stocked with a selection of the beef and pork listed below. If you know you want something, please email me and I will make sure it is in the cooler, reserved for you. I don't send every cut every week, they simply won't all fit!
Lifeline Beef Available: Ground Beef, Patties and Stew Meat
Pork Available: Grandpa's Sausage, Breakfast Sausage, Pork Chops, Shoulder Roast, Neck Bones (make the real deal Ramen!), Fat, Country Ribs, and Hock