Tuesday, September 30, 2008

At the Farm: Week 21

In the Share: Week 21
BROCCOLI (F/P) The fall crop debuts a bit wildly
CAULIFLOWER (F/P) a bit wild as well, the purple is due to stress.
SWEET PEPPERS (F) last of the ripe ones and some green
GREENS CHOICE (F) kale, collards, chard or asian greens
LETTUCE: (F/P) One heads-worth for all again.
TURNIPS OR RADISHES (P) Hakurei Turnips, Purple-Top Turnips or Watermelon Radishes. For the Wednesday shares; the Saturday partials got them last week.
ONIONS (F) the last of them
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Basil, chives, thyme or a dried herb.

Also this week: Parker Farms meat & egg share delivery

Next Week: More greens, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and roots. Sweet potatoes return. Bread share delivery.

Farm report
The hot topic amongst area organic farmers is a revolutionary no-till approach. It began when Patrice Gros, a Frenchman farming in Arkansas, visited our area last winter to talk about his practices. He loads on the straw along with some rabbit manure and gets high yields out of a small area. The thick layer of organic matter allows the soil to stay loose even after a downpour. It sounded intriguing enough to us but we might never have tried it if our neighbors, Vicky and Dallas Brock, hadn’t shown up one day with a trailerload of grass clippings from their yard. Thanks to them we’ve covered four 100 ft. beds with thick layer of hay and are hoping to do more. We got so inspired by the project that we’ve begun raking up grass clippings wherever we can find them. Here’s Jen laying straw right over the top of our buckwheat cover crop in the spring field. Rocky pitches in the best he can.

Our enthusiasm for the no-till idea has a lot to do with the problems we see in our soil. The clay that Clay County is known for (but not named for; Senator Henry Clay holds that honor) covers the limestone bedrock of our farm. Ages ago, winds carried our soil here from distant lands and left a deep and fine layer called loess. The rich loess deposits of our corner of Missouri and up into Iowa supports a varied and productive agriculture even as much of the best soil has already washed away. What is left on our farm is really fairly good for our area. There is a good foot of topsoil and below that several feet of clay. Despite being able to reliably grow carrots and a variety of tender vegetables, a wet season like this one surely shows us our limitations. The almost 10 inches of rain that fell this September compacted the soil leaving few spaces for oxygen to penetrate. The sun only needed a few days to bake it until it cracked. Today we realized we needed to irrigate after thinking we were done with it for the season. A thick layer of organic matter might have made a difference. Now to find that rabbit poop…

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