November 5th, 2010

Test Garden Update, Bill Nunes, Gustine, CA

billnunes Last week we drove up to Peaceful Valley Farm Supply in Grass Valley. I buy some seeds from them but mostly use them for soil amendments, cover crop seed, and fertilizers.

Came home with about 500 pounds of stuff including 200 pounds of winter rye. A 6-acre piece near my garden has come back into the family after several years of benign neglect. My middle son worked with me last year, but now is spending most of his time on this piece. When people ask me about starting an organic farm or garden I always strongly recommend starting with a season or two of cover cropping to build the soil and reduce the weed seed bank. So we’re actually going to practice what I preach on most of the 6 acres.

I’ve been getting a bit more rigorous about cover crops in my garden as well. About 8 beds got rye grass cover last winter and were very strong in tomato, winter squash, cukes, and long beans this summer.

I didn’t do much buckwheat cover this summer, but where I did I got a great crop in about 40 days. Heck, I had beds lay empty longer than that—which does no good at all. Quick summer cover crops are definitely on my to-do list for next spring and summer.

I’m also playing with mustards as a cover crop. Harvest a few baby greens before turning most of it under. The leaves are tender and break down pretty quickly. Next thing I want to try is rolling the mustard down and transplanting into the mulch instead of turning it under. I really need to work on weed suppression as opposed to hoeing, digging, pulling… Hand weeding is getting kind of old and I am too!

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