The News from Windflower Farm
What’s in your share?
- Kale mix
- Italian flat beans
- Sweet Peppers
- Sweet corn (from Hand Melon Farm)
Your fruit share will be fall prunes from Yonder Farm.
Next week, you’ll get acorn or delicata squash, plus lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic. The fall harvest is underway. Blocks of potatoes, winter squashes and leeks are still in the field along with small quantities of turnips, rutabagas and cabbage and the whole of the sweet potato crop. There are seven deliveries remaining in our season, but just three or four weeks that we can count on to be free from frost.
The greenhouse is full for the first time since June. We’ve just bumped the strawberries outside. The last of the greens will go next. Later this week, we’ll be seeding arugula, a variety of kales, spinach and choy for winter shares, and we’ll need the space. And then we’ll be done with greenhouse work for the year because it is the middle of September and the season is nearly over.
What’s new on the farm?
I’ve just climbed out of the cab of the old John Deere tractor. I’ve been doing some fall plowing. I must confess that I like how it looks – I’m tired of seeing weeds. Even in places where we’ve grown good crops, weeds are quick to follow. I also like that I can establish a good fall cover crop if I’ve plowed. Carbon in, carbon out.
A 1985 video of Carl Sagan discussing “emerging issues” is now in the background as I write. I saw him speak when I was in school. It’s therapy to hear his calm, reasonable descriptions of the world we live in. The most important emerging issue then as now was global warming. Listening, I find it remarkable that we knew then – nearly forty years ago – as much as we know now about the dangers of a warming planet. It is perhaps less surprising that the barriers to change then were no different than they are now.
Gray clouds hang low in the sky, and it feels like it might rain. This puts some bounce in my step as I have a fair amount of ground to work up and cover crop or green manure seeds to sow and I’d be happy to have the work done before the rain begins. The cover crop I’ll sow today is a mixture of rye and hairy vetch, which I’ve noted in the past does wonders for the health of the soils we farm. The rye, if let to grow until spring, will fix carbon and the hairy vetch, a legume, will fix nitrogen. This use of the word “fix” is the odd convention by which soil scientists mean to say that these atmospheric elements are incorporated into or become a part of the soil by way of growing plants. It’s a truly wonderful thing. Unfortunately, we are on something of a teeter totter ride in that when we are growing cover crops we are in the business of removing carbon dioxide from the air, and when we are tilling the soil to prepare it for vegetable plants we are in the business of releasing carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.
This is why no-till farming and other forms of conservation tillage get so much attention. Unfortunately, producers of warm-loving vegetables, and vegetable farmers in northern climates, and growers who don’t use pesticides (and we happen to be all three of these) have so far had little success with no-till farming. But the work goes on – trial and error. For now, it seems, if we are to make any kind of contribution to the goal of atmospheric CO2 reduction, it will have to focus on reducing the carbon footprint of our modest home and farm facilities (heaters, coolers, lights) and our trucks and tractors. And on this front we all have a contribution to make.
Have a great week, Ted