Thanksgiving Monday was a beautiful day.
Warm, calm, sunny & dry, it was the perfect day for … spreading manure!
Manure is an important part of our farm fertility program. Manure provides nutrients for the soil which in turn feeds the vegetables we grow. It also adds humus or organic matter which improves the texture of the soil and increases its ability to retain moisture (which is very important during dry seasons like this past summer). It can be difficult to source, but we were fortunate to find a new supplier this fall and received 6 large truckloads last week – about 180 tons!
The other parts of our fertility program include straw mulch, wood chips, compost & cover cropping. Mulch prevents weeds from growing, keeps moisture in the soil and adds nutrients & organic matter as it decomposes. Wood chips can do the same thing. We make compost by mixing manure together with our vegetable waste, straw and any leaves, grass clippings etc. that a local lawn care company drops off at our farm.
Cover crops are crops grown specifically for improving the soil. We use mixtures including buckwheat, sudan grass, oats, peas, radishes, hairy vetch, and several clovers. They are grown and then mowed down & worked into the soil. Some provide nutrients, others prevent weeds from growing, or add organic matter or …
Here is our squash patch from this year. After harvesting the squash we mowed everything down, lightly tilled the soil & seeded a cover crop mixture. It is just germinating now. Hopefully we get enough nice weather yet that it will grow larger and cover the soil for the winter. In spring we’ll work it down and plant other vegetables here.
The final component of our fertility program is a liquid fertilizer that we use when we transplant our vegetables. It gives them a quick boost and helps them get a good start, before their roots have grown enough to receive nutrition from the soil.
Growing great vegetables requires healthy soil. We spend a lot of time, effort & money on improving our soil. But the result -healthy & nutrient dense, flavourful & beautiful vegetables is worth it!
Around the farm this week …
Still vegetables growing in the field – lettuces, spinach, arugula, beets …
… eggplant & peppers.
We even had a new crop for market this week – radicchio! 4 varieties of this beautiful and bitter green.
We seeded sunflowers every Monday all spring & summer for a consistent weekly supply. But the plants and the weather don’t always co-operate and it doesn’t always work out. Last week we took 16 pails of sunflower bunches to market and left a lot behind that we couldn’t fit into the van.
This week we had but 1 pail of sunflowers to sell!
For our final market this coming Saturday we hope to have a good supply again ???
The fall colours around the farm are spectacular this year!
Fall means relaxation for some of us …
… or playing with friends,
… or enjoying wheelbarrow rides!