The News from Windflower Farm
Hello from Windflower Farm!
What’s in your share?
- Purple ruffled kale
- Magenta Lettuce
- Garlic scapes
- White salad turnips
- Bunched green onions
- Bok Choy
- Potted herb
Fruit shares will consist of our own organically grown strawberries.
What’s new on the farm?
A quick check of the rain gauge this morning left me with the contented feeling that comes with knowing a half week’s hard slog dragging irrigation pipe all over the farm can be put off for a few days. The ground had become parched, but the gauge showed a ½ inch and it’s raining still.
Nate and I were bicycling around the neighborhood yesterday and were reminded of how widespread the practice of conservation tillage has become among the county’s corn farmers. The equipment and herbicide programs needed to make no-till corn planting work are well established. Rows of young corn plants were emerging from the stubble of last year’s crop.
Organic no-till farming, on the other hand, has been a long time in development. Weeds are the main problem. How does one manage weeds without tillage (or herbicides)? But with each of us needing to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint, we thought we’d give it a try.
For years, we’ve grown cover crops on the farm to maintain healthy soil organic matter levels and to reduce erosion. This year, we’ve let a dense rye crop grow on two fields of about an acre and a half each, and this week, we’ll roll the rye and plant winter squashes into those beds.
We will use a crimper to roll the rye, which currently stands about 5’ high, to form a dense, weed suppressive mat. We’ll be using a technique called zone-tillage. Instead of plowing or disking to make a weed-free, bare ground bed in which to plant our vegetable seedlings, we’ll cut narrow slots into the rye mulch using large fluted coulters and a narrow shank. Making this tool is my work for today. We’ll then plant squashes that have been growing in our greenhouse since late May into the slots.
With any luck, the squash plants will have vined out and taken over the field before any weeds have the chance to poke through the rye mulch and become a problem. What could go wrong?
Have a great week, Ted