Unfallow Fields

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Speaking of fallow fields, we have two now.  We shouldn’t have any.

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When farming organically ideally a field should never be bare.  There should always be something growing in it. The roots of growing plants contribute to soil’s health and help hold it in place.  Then when the plants are tilled in, they contribute biomass and nutrients to the soil.  So covercropping is an important part of sustainable organic agriculture.

We aim to grow at least one cover crop in each garden for every food crop we grow.  Usually we will have two cover crops between harvestable crops.

Right now we have a garden producing lettuce and Asian greens, a garden producing the basic brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.), a garden growing radishes, turnips and overwintering spinach, and a garden growing onions and garlic.  The rest of the gardens are sowed in winter cover crops. We’ll till those crops in this spring before planting the food crops.  For gardens that will grow fall veggies, we’ll plant a summer crop and also till that in before we plant in the fall.

But we do have two bare fields right now.  One was this year’s tomato/pepper/eggplant garden and the other was this year’s pea garden (English then Purple Hull).  Both were sowed with a cover crop about a month ago, but it hasn’t rained since we planted them and nothing has germinated yet.  So I’m not happy about it, but we do have some bare soil.

The chemical-based farmers around here use a turning plow in the fall and leave their soil bare all winter.  I’m sure they wonder why in the world we are planting grasses on our fields in the fall, when they are working to kill any grasses in theirs.

But just as they don’t want anything growing in their fields over the winter, we don’t want any fields to lay plowed and fallow.  We want soil that is always alive.  Nature prefers it that way.