Our Growing Practices
We use a variety of sustainable practices to grow our produce and raise our flock of chickens. We’ll outline some of those practices below.
Cover crops are one of our favorite sustainable tools to use. A cover crop is a plant species or mixture of plant species that are planted without the intention of harvesting them. Instead they are used for their beneficial properties such as adding biomass back to the soil, attracting beneficial insects, or even adding some nutrients back to the soil!
The image to the left is an example of one of the cover crop mixes we use. The mixture includes tillage radish, kale, clover and Sudan grass. The tillage radish (bottom left), helps break up compacted soil and the clover (bottom right) fixates nitrogen from the air into the soil.
companion planting and crop rotation
Did you know different plants can help repel bugs or pests when planted near each other? For example, one of the biggest pests to vining crops, cucumbers in particular, is the cucumber beetle but cucumber beetles don’t like to be near radish so we plant radishes close to our cucumbers. Thus, the cucumber beetle pressure is reduced or eliminated without the need for sprays. This strategy is called companion planting. We intentionally plant all of our produce in this manner.
Additionally, we rotate our crops to reduce disease pressure and help balance soil nutrients. For example, peas and beans fix a small amount of nitrogen from the air while corn consumes a large amount of nitrogen to grow. Thus, we make sure that where we planted corn one year, we follow with peas or beans the next year to help offset the nitrogen imbalance.
Varieties selected for flavor
Our seeds are selected for flavor first! Nearly all of the produce you find in the supermarket are varieties that are chosen for the ability to be shipped and their shelf life. Unfortunately, the side effect of this is lost flavor. That’s why we always select our seeds that have the best flavor!
The image to the left is of our Carmen sweet peppers. They are one of the sweetest peppers we’ve found; almost like candy!
We try to minimize the amount of tillage we do but the reality is that we need to do some tillage and plowing for our crops to grow. We’ve been able to eliminate a lot of our fall plowing and tillage by incorporating cover crops into our production system. We also try to disturb as little soil as possible when we roto-till by only tilling to the depth necessary for planting seeds.
In the image to the left, we’re using a small plow to dig potatoes. Sure beats digging them by hand!