Winter is for soil health!
This fall you may have noticed that we have popped the tops on two of our high tunnels. For the next several months, this will help us boost the health of the soil we grow in.
The soil in the high tunnels has not been exposed to the elements in some time which can cause an imbalance in mineralization. Two of our tunnels will stay uncovered to benefit from freeze and thaw and to get the full impact of rain water and direct solarization. Rain water will help leech out salts that have built up in the soil. Freeze and thaw cycles of winter help to provide core pockets in the soil which on a micro level helps to drive mineralization from below to the top of the soil structure. This process will benefit micronutrients and organisms living in the soil.
In one of the high tunnels you’ll see a cover crop. Cover cropping is a process that uses plants to bring new health to soil. They are an important part of the crop rotation process. Where you have grown a crop that demands a high level of nitrogen, it can be replenished by growing a nitrogen fixing cover crop. The crop we selected is composed of cold hardy varieties; hairy vetch, field pea, snow pea, winter rye, daikon radish and clover. Later in the season, the crop will be tilled into the soil to act as a green manure, helping to break up soil compaction and add organic matter back into the bed.
The covered high tunnel will be in continual use–growing greens and a variety of root veggies for the farmstand this fall.