Field Update: Some Cover Crops and a Garlic preview

This year’s weather has been all over. Two weeks ago, it was downright chilly with a couple frosty nights. Not unusual for May but unexpected after balmy April. Last week, the temperature creeped into the high 20s (Celsius) – every day crops were noticeable bigger. And this week’s forecast has a high of 34C on Wednesday!

What a great spring for getting everything we want done on time! We’ve been able to seed all our spring cover crops and the overwintered rye is looking lush.

Reid seeded this Rye stand late last summer.

Rye is my favourite cover crop. I love how it mellows the soil and reduces weed pressure.  Of course it can be quite the handful to control. We give it special attention on the farm.

We start incorporating rye 5 weeks before planting. This is usually done by plowing to bury it well and start decomposition. Before plowing, we mow the stand to reduce the amount of foliage.   In the plowed ground on the left, you can see some rye that wasn’t mowed.

The two subsequent weeks we disk the ground. This further breaks up roots to help decomposition and also smoothes out clods. Next, we rototill, then stale seedbed the area before planting.

This process begins in Mid-May for crops planted in mid-June. (We use different cover crop combos for earlier planted vegetables).

Large field blocks are mainly worked with tractor equipment. I have been doing some experiments with manual tools in one of the small seed gardens.

I seeded oats and vetch in late April with the beet plate on the Earthway seeder.

The rows are 15″ apart, which lets a 12″ wheelhoe blade  through. I hoe out any inrow perennial weeds ignoring lambs quarters since they will be incorporated with the cover crop before they flower.

Cover cropping the seed garden is good for weed control and soil structure, but it also flushes out shattered seed from previous seed crops.

Amidst the oats, I can see volunteers from previous seed crops. In this patch (that isn’t too oaty) I can see shungiku, strawberry spinach and an escarole. This gives me a wild population of plants I can observe and select from if I see anything noteworthy.

One more picture for the road

This year’s garlic is standing tall. Like the other biennials and perennials on our farm, the garlic emerged a good week ahead of usual. Most years, I remove some mulch to warm the soil; this year most of the garlic shoved it’s way through the unstirred straw. I’ll talk more about garlic in the next month as the scapes start to emerge and the different varieties are easier to distinguish.

That’s all for now, I am going to go plant some tomatoes and turn on the sprinklers …

2 thoughts on “Field Update: Some Cover Crops and a Garlic preview

  1. Glad to hear that this spring’s weather hasn’t prevented you guys from being totally on top of things. Good luck planting tomatoes. I hope it isn’t as windy as last year.

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