This is the 4th year of our kitchen garden adventure and it’s time to let the soil rest for a year so I’ve just flipped the beds and seeded a beneficial insect mix from Peaceful Valley organic seeds. This mix is also good for the soil, providing root crops to break up compaction, and flowering plants to attract the good bugs. Some of the plants are perennials, so this garden will have a mix of thriving plants establishing in the beds around the veggies when they are replanted next year.
There are a few other places being seeded with the Peaceful Valley mix. Places where the chickens scratched up the ground and things never recovered are seeded now and will be off limits to the birds during the growing season this year. I hand tilled the area for seeding and hope the seeds lay dormant long enough to avoid any more frost. I’m only putting down half the seed so a second reseeding can happen in late spring. This area below, near the tree nursery, was seeded with medicinal plants last year, many of which will be returning next spring, but more plants are needed to fully root out this area. Cover crops are a way to encourage a good layer of green over the soil.
If we can cultivate these seeds to plants, we’ll get natural reseeding each fall from the mature plants, hopefully this rhythm will develop across the farm, allowing us to save seeds and encourage the plants we like to stay established and even spread on the farm. The lists of plants below give you an idea of what good cover crops can be. A lot of the plants on this list will take hold, so you have to be mindful of putting the crops in places you have good control over to prevent unwanted spreading. My plan is to dig up and transplant anything that’s not welcome in next spring’s veggie planting.
Leafhopper Farm is still growing its soil. This takes a long time, even with all the animal inputs and intensional seeding. It has been most helpful to create focused beds for experimentation, before tilling up a whole field. We really can’t do that easily here at the farm because we opted not to have a tractor and try to work with nature rather than forcing her hand to our benefit. When we force things, the results can have more long term damage on the soil, because fertile earth is not instant, even if we can pour chemicals all over it to return nutrients to the plant artificially, the soil will give out eventually.
The world population continues to overtax our agricultural system and until we as a species admit we’re over-consuming, things are not going to heal easily. Commercial farms will keep adding chemicals to the soil, killing the natural bacteria and microorganisms that are the very things adding richness to the soil. Until we can move away from so much instant gratification, the soil will continue to deteriorate and our food producers will fall further and further as the population continues to grow. This is another reason to start growing a little of your own food and take time to support your local farmers and alternative food producers.