Dear Farm Fam,
This Fall Justin, our Farm Manager, and I have decided it was time to give cover cropping in our growing spaces an earnest effort. Since we are both new in our farming journeys this was the first time either of us had scaled up cover cropping practices beyond a small garden bed or two and so we are excited for what we learn this year.
So what is cover cropping?
Great question! Cover cropping is a practice to keep your soil health intact by using plants as a protective layer over your soils. There are many plants that growers choose to act as cover crops but they often share some common characteristics; quick to mature, ability to fix nitrogen into the soil, easy to terminate and fold into your soils, etc.
Cool! But why should I cover crop?
I’m glad you asked. There are many different reasons folks choose to use cover crops but chief among them is to retain soil and water. Bare soil that is exposed to the elements is more likely to get washed or blown away which negatively impacts both farmers and the environment. As a wonderful farmer once told me, soil and water are like a farmer’s bank account. Cover crops are an investment to increase your bank account and can:
By just getting started! We’ve all felt what it’s like to start a new endeavor without feeling like you have all the information and that can be scary. But as a farmer if you give into that fear you might let your window slip by and never get around to actually growing anything! Now this doesn’t mean that you should throw caution to the wind and start tossing seeds willy nilly; do your research, find a crop that fits your space, tools, and goals, BUT don’t let not being 100% certain stop you from trying something new.
If you’re limited by space and machine power like we are at Freetown your best option will likely be crimson clover. It is a nitrogen fixing crop that will feed your soils with nutrients and is easy to terminate (aka mow down) when you are ready to grow again.
If you’re interested in learning more about our cover cropping endeavor at Freetown Farm make sure to stop by during one of our volunteer shifts to chat with Justin or myself and get an update on how things have progressed.
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CEI humbly acknowledges the Indigenous people who were wrongfully removed from their ancestral lands where we live and work today. We offer our deepest respect to the Piscataway Conoy Tribe and all other tribes Indigenous to the central Maryland region where our organization is based. To learn more about the Indigenous people where you live, visit Native-Land.ca.
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