The field surrounding our small farm on three sides is owned by a large family run dairy farm. They bought it about 4 years ago and have been exceptionally good farmer neighbors and we enjoy watching their fields grow and the improvements they make to the land. I’m excited as they are growing some kind of small grain this year, probably winter wheat. The previous owners only ever grew soybeans or corn since we moved here in 1995 and probably long before, so it’s the first time I’ve seen small grains there. I feel a bit jealous that I didn’t get my cover crops in yet though as they planted this crop only a couple days after taking off corn silage in September and spraying some cow manure on the field and it’s a healthy 3 or 4 inches tall already.
I have a bunch of rye and hairy vetch I had intended to plant but didn’t get the empty part of the garden prepared in time. I may try putting it in anyway and see how it goes as rye is pretty tough.
Each year, I plan to plant a cover crop and sometimes it works and sometimes not and usually it’s just in one or two spots. The garden is never actually 100% empty at any given time because we grow a variety of things and some stay in over winter, like garlic, and some just stay in up to the frost, like tomatoes, peanuts and sweet potatoes, some live past frost like cabbage family plants and chards. This year I planted carrots in August too. I planted them on a raised bed in between some garlic beds and next to a plot of chicory I planted for my sheep and plan to leave in over the winter. I tested out a row of Sunn Hemp, a legume – not really hemp and I bought some big “sod buster “ radishes I had wanted to try over the winter but still haven’t got them in. Now it’s October and I still don’t have all my garlic in or anything resembling a cover crop other than clover left from last year in my “no-till” section of the garden which probably counts as a cover crop. I’m hoping to have Kelly till that up for me, but maybe now I’ll wait until spring. We finally had a couple hard frosts last week so I need to clean out the tomato and pepper plants and their supports. My dry beans and edamames need sorted out and picked off their plants and I have beets and chard I need to do something with. I have Woad that needs harvested and possibly dug out so it doesn’t get out of control. I grew some black holly hocks from seed this year too, but they are in the middle of the garden and need moved to the edge with my overwintering herbs so they don’t get tilled up. They won’t bloom until next year anyway so I need to find them a good spot where they can bloom and get enough sun.
I just hope we have a few more nice fall days so I can get it all done before winter!