Cover Crops, not just for the soil!

Cover Crops, not just for the soil!

We need to actively participate in our food system — in our political system — to make sure that the best food we can produce in this country is available to the most vulnerable eaters – our kids.”  – Anonymous


Elisa and I took last Saturday afternoon off to enjoy a father-daughter moment on the farm – just the two of us. First we had to visit “Granny,” one of our female goats who just 2 days prior birthed triplets. All three kids are healthy, taking turns suckling, and “mom” is patient enough to let them be held and cuddled.



After getting our fill of playing with the goats we decided to pack a snack and go picnic by the pond on the upper portion of the farm. It is one of our favorite “get-away” spots with views over the Pajaro Valley and Santa Cruz mountains.  The pond is surrounded by 4 acres of sloping fields, and I purposefully leave the cover crops to grow until the last major rains of the season are over. Right now the lush green cover stands almost 6 feet tall. Still untouched, it looks like an immense impenetrable jungle to 8-year-old Elisa



In no time at all, she and I turn into explorers crawling through a thicket of fava beans, vetch, peas and merced rye making secret passageways and dens, hiding from each other and letting our imagination run freely.




After what seems like “ages”, we finally emerge from the field to catch our breath.  Elisa of course, whose world is all about games, wonders if I could leave the cover crop until later in the season so that she can invite her friends to play in it.  While I explain the benefits of a cover crop – i.e. soil fertility, organic matter, higher crop yields – I feel the regret of having to plow this “magic” world back into the soil.  I guess it’s a lesson of following the lifecycles of nature and understanding that, ultimately, a healthy soil allows us to continue growing more  “magic” moments.  Whether it’s a pumpkin patch, a tall corn maze, or more cover crops – the possibilities are endlessly nourishing.

To wrap up the afternoon we swing by the strawberry patch and I see how one field’s “magic” is quickly replaced by another, as Elisa picks and bites into a large sweet berry. We know the season has started when the strawberry harvest picks up. Every share will get a basket this week!

spring strawberries

As the last of the winter cover crop is being mowed the soil is prepared and ready to be planted with summer crops. The first batch of dry-farmed tomato seedlings got planted last week, and this week sun gold cherry tomatoes and peppers will follow. With the soil now warm enough, we will also sow the first of several successions of green beans.  So hold on, the bounty of summer is upon us before we know it!!!


By | 2013-04-09T13:31:44+00:00 April 9th, 2013|Crop & Field Notes, Farm News & Tom's Reflections|2 Comments