For our last episode/blog, I wanted to take some time to discuss lessons learned from this year, and how to prepare for next year.
“In preparation for next year, don’t forget to remove your plastic and work to rebuild your soil.”
If you’re reading this and just finished your year in the Organic Growers Group, then a congratulation is in order. I hope this year has been financially successful for you and that you will continue to grow organically.
Whether you decide to stay in the organic growers’ group for next year, obtain your individual organic certification or grow conventionally, I recommended the following to prepare yourself for next year’s growing season. First, bush hog your plants so you can remove your plastic and then disc, or till to flatten your beds. Lastly, plant those cover crops that are beneficial to your operation by October 1st, so they have time to establish themselves.
In one of our earlier episodes, we talk with Jason from Sprouting Hope Community Garden who states, “if you care about your farm and you care about your farm’s success, in the long run, building your soil organic matter, and soil nutrition is the most important crucial thing to do for the health of your operation.”
We’ve talked about in previous blogs the importance of cover cropping. In short, cover crops will help rebuild your soil, prevent erosion, fix nitrogen and carbon, and attract pollinators. Here is a link to Seven Springs organic farming cover crops seeds and inoculants. For those of you living near Abingdon, Virginia, Steve and Becky Wolfe bring Seven Springs seeds and supplies to the Abingdon Farmers Market.
When it comes time to till next year, you will be glad if you cover cropped since your soil will be easier to work and you will save time spent on your tractor. Cover cropping also fits perfectly into your crop rotation. Now is the perfect time to determine which fields you will grow your produce on for next year.
To help you plan out your fields for next year, I talked with Deana Haines of Scott County Virginia, a first-year grower for Appalachian Harvest. Deana had her squash in a field that had 600 feet rows. She learned for next year that she should create a walking row in the middle of the field, to help make irrigation and harvesting easier.
You may remember Deana from previous episodes/blogs. Deana, unfortunately, lost her delicata and spaghetti squash to Downy Mildew. Her advice in preventing this is to inspect the plants every day to make sure they’re healthy. Deana did that with her acorn but did not with her spaghetti and delicata. She says they looked healthy and didn’t think anything could bring them down. As for delicata, Deana recommends only growing this squash if you have enough labor to manage and harvest it.
That’s it for Growing Organically for Wholesale Markets. I hope this blog series and our corresponding video series was helpful for you. If you decide to grow next year, I wish you the best of successes!