Farm Focus: Cover Crop Season

 

Last week we shared a little bit about why we cover crop in our orchards. This week we’re going to talk about how it will all get done.  Now that stone fruit season is winding down our ground crew is getting ready for the big task of planting cover crops before the rainy season begins. In the past we have used a 6 ft wide Seed Drill, a piece of equipment we attached to the back of our tractor that pokes holes in the ground and deposits seeds as it moves.The trick is calibrating the drill hole size to the seeds we're planting and also getting the right tractor speed to disperse down the right amount of seeds. There was a bit of a learning curve using this rented equipment last year but we're hoping our experience will make the process more efficient this season.

As we discussed in last week’s Farm Focus, we are working with a program called Seeds for Bees who is donating various types of seed mixes for bee-friendly cover crops in our almond orchard. Instead of planting all the seeds together, the Seeds for Bees will be planted in alternating rows with a clover mix and a mustard mix, including plants like daikon radish that have big roots to break up soil. In the next few weeks Rachel will test soil quality to have a baseline to compare after the cover crop has had a chance to do its thing. We will also broadcast seed the tree berms with a wildflower mix, providing lots of great forage for bees.  As always our goal is supporting the web of life that keeps our soil healthy, making for happy trees, microbes and insects. Timing is crucial when it comes to planting cover crop. We need to plant them early enough for it to be dry out for our tractor and late enough that they get consistent rain once germinated. We will keep you posted about how it all goes!

 
 Nitrogen fixing root nodules

Nitrogen fixing root nodules