Today I planted a mix of cereal rye, hairy vetch, and daikon radish in the lanes between hop rows. (Vetch! Daikon! Plants got the best names after all.) The rye and Hairy V will buckle down like college kids waiting for spring break. The radish will take that long, lonely walk this winter and we’ll pay our respects when they do. Along the way, all of them will fix nitrogen, contribute to soil organic matter, and help provide a lasting residue to protect the soil in the 2016 growing season. Thanks to the good people at Green Acres Covercrops for providing the seed mix and fun conversation at Benson Brewery. Small-scale entrepreneurs are absolutely the best.
I did a very shallow till so as to minimize harm to soil structure and the zillion micro organisms who whoop it up in Lovehops Farm’s wonderdirt. I then sowed the seeds on foot with a simple hand-cranked spreader. The whole process was Farming Zen…I imagine this is what mindful sweeping or teeth-brushing or nose-picking at Plum Village must be like.
Cover crops flow from a philosophy of feeding the soil, not the crop. At Lovehops Farm, we’re building long-term compost, not soaking the soil in short-term performance-enhancing drugs.