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from the Field

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September 8, 2019
To Beckon Rainfall, Irrigate
Notes From The Field
by Farmer Derek

A major benefit to a lush stand of cover crop is its simple beauty. A decent sky always helps to enhance/enrich a photo.
The farm enjoyed its first legitimate rainfall in more than a month this past week. As predicted, and the reason I'm most reluctant to devote time and resources to its cause, immediately following the installation and use of the irrigation system, it rained. There's a good chance we'll resume a weather pattern that provides regular rainfall and the irrigation infrastructure will just provide mowing hazards. But if that is what it took for the weather deities to notice our need, I guess it was worth it. That is the past though and we must not dwell on it. There are new projects to devote one's time to.
In between Monday's big rain event and Friday's minor one we transplanted a few thousand little plants, perhaps the penultimate outdoor transplanting event for the season. We seeded the first of 4 indoor greens successions including spinach, arugula, and lettuce mix. The movable high tunnel by the parking lot is going through a bit of overhaul as we dismantle some ventilation systems and install new ones. It will also get a new sheet of plastic as the other one is pushing 8 years on a proclaimed 4-year life.
As crops leave the soil and those areas can now be put to sleep for the winter we've settled into a great habit of spreading compost before a cover crop so that most of the farm will receive a healthy dose at least once a year. This system fits well into our work schedule since we have more available time in late summer and fall to devote to adding compost and it also well avoids the 90 and 120 day rule for spreading compost/manure before a crop is harvested (we're spreading 180+ days before harvest). Continually adding organic matter through compost, cover crops, and crop residue makes a huge difference in the health and quality of our soils and helps plants through dry stretches. By now I would say that more than half the farm has received compost this calendar year and is now in a cover crop mix of buckwheat, oats, and daikon radish. By mid-October all of the available areas that aren't in late fall crops should composted and cover cropped.
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