In September and October, after we finish harvesting a crop for sale, we try to plant a cover crop for the soil. It is like a ‘thank you’ gift for the land that produced the crop. This year, more than any other year, the crew has planted rye and oats to cover the soil over winter, add organic matter, and reduce any erosion or nutrient leaching. Cover crops are a real ‘push’ kind of thing. You have to really push yourself to make it happen. Everyone is tired, harvests are big, and there are so many things that need to get done before the first hard frost. Why bother with cover crops? The following year, where cover crops were planted, the soil is better, the weeds are fewer, and crops for sale are generally in much better shape. That’s why we bother.
If we hire a new crew every year, they don’t see the benefits of a cover crop they’ve planted. This year, however, two people came back to work on the farm for a second season (Thanks Justin and Sydney!). They could see for themselves how the cover crop improved the soil and growing conditions the following year. It was a huge incentive to get cover crops planted this year. The farm has never looked so good in the fall, with swaths of emerald cover crops growing everywhere possible. It’s like tucking the garden into bed with a big green blanket. All the worms and other soil organisms are snuggled in for the winter, and we know the rain and wind will not carry away our precious topsoil. It’s truly a great feeling.
The other thing we’ve been working on is getting ready for fall/winter/early spring harvests. Last winter we had quite a lot to sell in the winter from the farm, but it would sell out too quickly. Feedback from customers indicated we should grow more for the winter, so we did! We built another greenhouse, buried water and electrical lines, and planted more. This winter we will have more greens of all kinds, and the same infrastucture will help us grow earlier summer crops in 2021. Thanks to all the people who encouraged us to make the investments and to the very generous folks who invested in our new greenhouse by getting large gift certificates.
Justin especially was happy to grow more winter storage crops, like carrots, and daikon radish that are being harvested now. We are also planning an upgrade to the wash/pack room so it is warmer in the winter. (Yay!!) Lots of people assume we slow down at this time of year and take the winter off, but we don’t. The winter is busy since we sell every week of the year at Warehouse Market on Isleville St in North-End Halifax. See you there!