Farm Happenings at Hawkins Family Farm
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Farm Happenings for November 12, 2022

Posted on November 12th, 2022 by Zach Hawkins

With only TWO WEEKS left in our main CSA season, we are busy working on lots of end-of-season wrap-up projects, like preparing our garden beds for winter. One important task has been to establish cover crops: crops that we won't harvest but that serve a number of very important roles in the health of our garden soil.

One of our goals is to keep living roots in the soil as much as possible so that plants can photosynthesize and feed the soil biology. The sun shines on the farm every day of the year after all--even in the winter--so we do our best to keep the garden as green as we can through the cold months. Bare ground is a missed opportunity to feed the soil! Some of our cover crops, like oats and field peas, will die off once the temperature get too low, but they allow us capture sunlight much later into the year than if we left the soil unplanted. But other cover crops we grow, like cereal rye and crimson clover, will live through the winter and resume their growth in the springtime.

In addition to photosynthesizing, cover crops suppress weeds, scavenge for nutrients, and reduce soil erosion during harsh winter weather. The roots literally keep the soil in place. We spend a lot of time and energy tending the health of our soil and we want to keep it on our farm!

The cover crops also create favorable conditions for next season's crops. In the spring, planting is often as easy as raking away the winter killed oats and peas and sowing spinach, lettuce, and radishes, so in many ways we aren't wrapping up this season...we are beginning the next one.