NATURE’S TURN: Succession sowing; gentler, greener growing practices

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By Monday, Jul 17 Farm and Table
Judy Isacoff
Wire basket holds sugar snap peas and strawberries. July 11, 2017.

July 17 – 30, 2017

Asian greens ready for daily harvests. Wire basket, upper left; bush bean plant to its right. July 12, 2017. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Asian greens ready for daily harvests. Wire basket, upper left; bush bean plant to its right. July 12, 2017. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Mount Washington — Sugar snap and snow peas are current trellis-to-table mainstays, with cucumber plants and pole beans on their way up. Strawberries and red currants are nearing the end of their season while gooseberries, black currants, raspberries and blueberries are fully formed and have begun to ripen. All of these fruits may be eaten out of hand, frozen raw, or cooked and preserved as thickened sauces and spreads. Lettuce sown in April is beginning to bolt to be entirely harvested within a few days, giving ground to quickly growing edamame and other bush beans. Fall lettuces like the chicories have been or will soon be planted. Asian greens are delectable sautéed and provide color, texture and spice to salads. My second sowing will be harvested in a few days and the bed prepared for collards. A third seeding of Asian greens will be broadcast where shallots didn’t thrive.

Refer to the following Planting Calculator for Fall Harvest Crops as a guide to figuring your succession crops, which is available for download.

 

Planting Calculator for Fall Harvest Crops

Schoolhouse Garden’s permanent beds planted to carrots, foreground; lady’s mantle, left; garlic behind with poppies above. Violet mounds edge garlic bed. July 12, 2017. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Schoolhouse Garden’s permanent beds planted to carrots, foreground; lady’s mantle, left; garlic behind with poppies above. Violet mounds edge garlic bed. July 12, 2017. Photo: Judy Isacoff

As you prepare for succession planting and look ahead to new growing spaces, please consider that creating and maintaining permanent planting beds, with aisles for access, is the starting point for recognizing soil as an ecosystem of micro- and macro-organisms that is not to be disturbed unnecessarily. When we grasp that soil is a living community in dynamic relationship with plants and the larger world, our practice has new meaning. For those of us who double-dug to create raised beds or built frames for that purpose, our relationship to the soil in those beds takes a leap forward when we become informed of the practices of no-till gardeners and farmers. For those who rototill and/or turn the ground over with a fork or shovel, an introduction to no-till could prove transformative.

Gardeners who are working land of good tilth will find that the transition from conventional-layout to permanent-bed gardening can be immediate. Beds may be free-edged or framed and shaped in response to one’s space, purpose and temperament. Bed dimensions should allow comfortable access from side to side and end to end. Aisles should be as narrow as can be negotiated for walking and working, perhaps 12 inches. Permanent beds are not always raised beds.

Permanent beds and aisles at Woven Roots Farm, Tyringham. Co-owner Jen Salinetti, right, speaking at no-till workshop. Note-taking participant, far right. July 9, 2017. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Permanent beds and aisles at Woven Roots Farm, Tyringham. Co-owner Jen Salinetti, right, speaking at no-till workshop. Note-taking participant, far right. July 9, 2017. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Looking at the photograph taken at Woven Roots Farm during a recent no-till workshop sponsored by the Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts chapter, note that the lush swaths of vegetation are growing in permanent beds. So are the crops and perennials in the image of Schoolhouse Garden.

When soil is not dug or turned over, weed seeds are not brought to the surface. Aeration is accomplished with a broadfork or spading fork. Other no-till practices include leaving the roots of harvested plants in the ground, except for root crops! For example, when harvesting a head of lettuce or a kale plant, it is cut off at its base leaving the roots to rot in place where they will feed soil organisms. Weeds are pulled out with their roots so they will not regenerate. Compost and other soil amendments are incorporated into the soil by shallow mixing with a hoe or mechanized tilther.

Learn more at the Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts chapter summer conference from Friday, Aug. 11 through Sunday, Aug. 13, at Hampshire College in Amherst. Attend for a day or the whole weekend. Register by Tuesday, July 25, to save 20 percent. Choose from over 100 workshops on all aspects of farming, gardening, beekeeping, herbal medicine, food preservation, mushrooms and more. There is an extensive youth program.

Resources

Hungarian Breadbox Poppy, abuzz with pollinators, at edge of onion bed. July 12, 2017. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Hungarian Breadbox Poppy, abuzz with pollinators, at edge of onion bed. July 12, 2017. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts chapter (NOFA/MASS) summer conference, Hampshire College, Amherst – http://nofasummerconference.org/

Soil health : planetary health – http://www.nofamass.org/articles/2017/06/nofa-summer-conference-offers-tools-tricks

http://www.johnnyseeds.com/growers-library/online-tools-calculators.html

http://theberkshireedge.com/natures-turn-no-till-polyculture-permaculture-pleasures/


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