I wanted to clarify the newsletter note about the last week for you-pick. It is the last week to glean the tomato, pepper, and eggplant fields. Also we will be getting rid of the okra, cherry tomatoes, ground cherries, tomatillos, basil, and dill in the main you-pick field. We plan to keep some herbs, maybe some flowers and hot peppers around a bit longer, but we need to start planting cover crops soon (see below). Therefore, after this week, expect to pick: pawpaws (see this week’s newsletter for more information), herbs and *maybe flowers and hot peppers.
ABOUT COVER CROPS: As organic farmers, we rely on the fertility and organic matter that is created by crops we grow during the off-season (usually winter). We call these generally ‘cover crops’ because they cover the soil and provide lots of benefits for the subsequent vegetable crop that we will plant next year. Winter cover crops are best when established early enough in the fall to put on substantial growth before the weather gets cold. The tough thing about annual vegetable farming is timing when to mow the crop down in time for cover crop establishment. The best time to plant is the first couple of weeks of September. In fact, yesterday morning (right before the .77 inches of rain we received at the farm), we planted over two acres of winter oats, winter peas and crimson clover in many of the fields used for spring and summer vegetable production. This cover crop will put on all of its growth this fall, probably be killed by the winter temperatures, and whatever residue is left will be incorporated before more crops are planted next year. As hard as it is to mow crops down, it is essential that we start mowing crops, removing the plastic mulch, incorporating crop residue (letting the microbes eat/decompose it for a couple of weeks), and be able to sow cover crop seed as soon as possible.