Science abounds in agriculture that is why science experiments are a constant in agriculture and on our farm. We are always trying to learn and grow from what we are doing. Constantly trying to improve on what has been done before. Two experiments this year are cover crops and strip cropping.
What is a Cover Crop? Cover crops are plants sown to form a living mulch and are planted to provide seasonal soil cover on cropland when the soil would otherwise be bare—i.e., before the crop emerges in spring or after fall harvest.
Cover crops help reduce soil erosion and keep weeds in check. When cover crops are turned into the soil to provide organic matter and nutrients, they’re called “green manures.”
Common cover crops in Minnesota include rye and other small grains, buckwheat and hairy vetch. They are best suited to areas of the state with plenty of water available in the soil for both the cover crop and the main crop. Using cover crops in Minnesota can be difficult because of the small window of opportunity to establish them to grow. Minnesota farmers have nonetheless found creative ways to utilize cover crops.
What is Strip Cropping? Strip cropping is a method of farming which involves cultivating a field partitioned into long, narrow strips which are alternated in a crop rotation system. It is used when a slope is too steep or when there is no alternative method of preventing soil erosion.
We decided to leave some strips of our cover crops in the field through the growing season as a method of weed control between our rows of vines. It has been interesting to observe both the effects of the strip cropping and the cover crops.
The strip cropping of rye grass and rapeseed began as a cover crop last fall. We tilled the cover crop up this spring which then went into our soil as “green manure” to help provide nutrients for this year’s crops.
We left strips of the cover crop in the field area where we were planting vines. We then planted our vining crops, such as pumpkins, squash, watermelon etc, in the tilled areas.
1.The rye grass and rapeseed do appear to help control the weed growth and have also seemed to help suppress some of the insect pressure on the vining crops.
2. There was a section because of a later harvest of a crop where we did not plant a cover crop. The weed growth and weed pressure in this area is heavy.
3.We have harvested the rye grass for feed and bedding for our chickens and pigs. This has been a benefit to those animals.
Learn more from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and from the University of Minnesota Extension.
Boxes of Produce
This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.
Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – With a lot of lettuce in your boxes, check out Martha Stewart’s lettuce salad recipes. Some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off of them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So remember to wash your vegetables before eating.
Prizeleaf and Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – I love these beautiful lettuces – Prizeleaf is green with reddish tips and Red Oak Leaf is a red lettuce leaf. They add such a wonderful color to salads and sandwiches.
Spinach – Remember to wash before eating.
Beet – Dark Detroit Red Beets – Look here to find ways to cook beets and recipes.
Sugar Snap Peas – A healthy harvest for you – eat the pod and the peas. These are a shareholder favorite. You may have noticed peabine’s or pea harvesters in the fields around Northfield. They are harvesting peas for processing – this is a different variety of pea. Fact: Minnesota is the second largest state for growing green peas for processing (meaning the peas will be frozen or canned peas like we buy in the store)
Radishes – French Breakfast radishes – radish recipes.
Carrots – Enjoy some fresh carrots. Check out this video on how baby carrots become baby carrots that we buy in the store.
Summer Squash and zucchini – I’m hoping this new variety of golden egg hybrid will show some more size as the season progresses. Thought that between the zucchini and the golden egg you could have a nice vegetable mixture on your grill over the 4th of July weekend.
Onions – We had some white and purple onions ready. Enjoy on brats, burgers or in a vegetable dish this weekend. Check out onion harvest in Idaho.
Fresh cut arrangement – hosta leaves, lilies and sweet peas.
Recipe of the Week
Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame Seeds
1 pound sugar snap peas
Dark sesame oil
Black sesame seeds
Toss sugar snap peas in a bowl with sesame oil, sesame seeds, and kosher salt, to taste. Serve.