A bright green field against a background of dark green trees under a perfect blue sky with white fluffy clouds. Not a bad place to spend some time this afternoon!
This field is not growing any vegetables in 2020. We are fortunate to have enough acreage available that we can take fields out of production and grow cover crops for a year, both to give them a rest, and to improve the soil. I seeded this field back in May to a mixture of oats, peas, several kinds of clover, buckwheat and hairy vetch. The plants grow and bloom and then I mow them down before they go to seed. This afternoon was the 3rd or 4th time I’ve done this. And I’ll keep doing it until fall. Then I might till the plants into the soil, spread manure or compost and reseed another cover crop for the winter. Or if this one is still growing well, I might leave it until next spring. Then I’ll work the ground and we’ll grow vegetables here again.
We grew a mixture of cover crops because they each provide some benefit. Some are good at smothering weeds. Others provide nitrogen to the soil, or have deep roots that bring nutrients closer to the surface for our vegetables. All add organic matter which will decompose and improve the texture of the soil. On our farm we can see the improvements the cover crops have made, especially how our soil can hold moisture and keep our vegetables growing better even during this dry spell.
When I mow the cover crop down I usually leave a section unmowed, letting these plants flower to provide food & shelter for insects. As I mowed today there were all sorts of insects, moths, dragonflies … flying around. A flock of barn swallows followed the tractor, swooping & diving, catching insects to eat. A hawk soared overhead and then landed next to me – looking for mice. It is amazing how much life there can be in such a small area.
Not a bad place at all to spend some time this afternoon!
A few sunflowers self-seeded from last summer’s crop.
What’s in the box?
It’s mystery box week!
Fresh garlic, tomatoes, basil, zucchini, plus …?
- We picked all our garlic last week – and it looks great! Lots & lots of beautiful bulbs! Fresh garlic has wonderful strong, pungent garlic flavour – much stronger than the garlic scapes you have been receiving in your box. Because it has just been pulled and is not dry, it should be kept at room temperature, and in a place with good air circulation. You can leave it there and it will slowly cure & dry. Or enjoy it right away in your cooking, but know that once the bulb is broken open it should be used within a few days. Enjoy!
- The tomatoes are ripening faster & faster now and we are picking more & more. It is still mostly the smaller tomatoes that are ready, but the big beefsteaks are not far behind!
- What goes with tomatoes? Basil. Great in a simple tomato salad. Or use your basil in bruschetta, a frittata or of course pesto. (lots of recipes & suggestions at http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com) *Treat basil like you would a bouquet of flowers – in a jar with water. DON’T put it in the fridge – the cold temperatures will turn it black.
- plus … The remainder of the CSA box this week is a bit of a mystery. Mostly due to the weather we will have a bit of this and a bit of that. So the CSA boxes will contain different vegetables on each pick-up day …
- There will be zucchini.
- There should be some salad greens – probably lettuce, or baby kale, arugula or a greens mix. While we lost several new plantings during the heat the other week, some greens managed to grow & even regrow after cutting and are now ready for harvest – or will be later in the week.
- We are finishing up with the 2nd planting of kohlrabi and just grabbing a few that are big enough from the 3rd.
- Cucumbers are a failure for us so far this season. The 1st planting which we are picking now, suffered a lot of insect damage which affected both quality & quantity of the harvest. We are picking some nice ones now – but not many! The 2nd planting all died in the heatwave. A 3rd planting is doing great, growing in the greenhouse, but still a long ways from harvest. We have even seeded a 4th time now. Cucumbers are one of my favourite vegetables so we are not giving up!
- The heat has also been hard on the broccoli (a cool weather crop). We are picking a smaller quantity.
- And eggplant is just starting to come into season. Any of these vegetables might appear in your share this week.
Around the farm this week …
Is it groundhogs or rabbits that have been tasting the sunflowers? Fortunately they are just nibbling at a few plants next to the train tracks and leaving the rest alone – so I’ll leave them alone!
Pink sunrise this morning.
A beautiful sunrise the other Saturday on our way to market in Georgetown.
Our market setup this week.
Wild skies resulted in only a few raindrops – but no damaging storms either!
Sage enjoys cooling off at Lake Ontario …
… or chilling on the deck.
But Flynn can relax anywhere.