Green Blanket

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!

Raphaëlle seeding rye after carrots were harvested. Can you see the seeds falling out from the chest spreader in the photo above?
David and Haku, lying in the rye Raphaëlle seeded.
Brian and Kenzie adding compost to the new greenhouse.
We named this newest greenhouse Simone.
Simone a few weeks later planted with winter crops.
Some of the seedlings had to be replanted due to pest damage.
Raphaëlle mowing rye cover crop in early summer
This rye was planted fall 2019 and mowed June 1 2020. It was covered with black plastic after mowing, then uncovered and planted late summer 2020.
Justin harvesting beautiful, weed-free greens where rye had grown. The residue from rye can be seen in the pathway.
More beautiful greens grown after rye cover crop
In the background is a hoophouse with tomatoes and peppers that will be dismantled, and moved on to the crops in the foreground. These hardy greens will continue to grow and will be harvested and sold this winter. And we all know greens grown in the cold get especially sweet!
Most of the tomatoes were pulled out of our first climate battery greenhouse, now called Nina
We had to move the tomatoes out so the greens could be transplanted and seeded in time for winter production. I asked for one row of tomatoes to be left behind.
This is a field we’re bringing into production so we have more room for cover crops. It was formed into beds and covered with black plastic this summer, long enough to kill the sod. Then David went through it with the ‘vibroplanche’, a tool made for us by Isaac Villeneuve, which is like a mechanical broadfork (in the photo above, on the back of the tractor). He then seeded it to rye with the chest spreader
After a very heavy rain, we could see the little purple rye shoots coming up. So exciting!
This is where we grew onions, with clover growing in the pathways between beds.
Onions were harvested late summer, and the beds were cleaned off and seeded to rye (which can be seen just poking up in the photo above)
This October 16 photo was taken after a heavy frost that killed fruiting crops like eggplant and peppers. The pathways were seeded to overwintering cover crops that feed and protect the soil all year.
We’re happy to have a new product addition to the Warehouse Market: Lucky Onion Kimchi! We eat kimchi all winter as an addition to most meals.
Brian came back for a visit during carrot harvest