winter rye

I farm on a hillside. It doesn’t look all that steep, but it only took one hard rain on freshly worked soil to make it clear to me that it’s steep enough for erosion to be a constant worry. There are various things I do to minimize erosion. One is to make sure that I have the soil bare for as little time as possible. That means that after I finish harvesting plots in the fall, I usually immediately seed them with winter rye. I love pretty much everything about rye, from its incredible ability to grow in cold weather to its stunningly bright green in the spring to the vigor with which it grows (the rye in the picture is a good six feet tall).

It does have one drawback, though. It’s not at all inclined to die if you plow it in early in the spring and mostly just shrugs off the “replanting.” Once its hormones shift towards seed production later in the season, however, it is much less likely to regrow.

Partially mowed rye patch

Of course, at that point its sheer size means that I have to first run over it with a flail mower that chops it into little pieces before any of the equipment I own is capable of working it into the soil. This is also around the same time I should be planting most summer vegetables. Put all this together, and the result is that for a while each May I am frantically trying to mow and plow in the rye in time to plant other things. That’s what occupied much of my time last week and this week, whenever the weather permitted.

Speaking of weather, we’ve had a lot of rain recently. That’s not so great for some things, but a lot of the greens have been flourishing in it. This is the time of year for fresh greens anyway, but especially so now. Greens feature prominently in the list for this week’s market. Just keep in mind that the more tender the greens (as in, after lots of rain), the more quickly they wilt at market. The spinach, mustard greens, and kale this week are VERY tender. So perhaps come by the market earlier rather than later Saturday morning? — Sydney

This week’s items

Items we plan to have at the market this week (an asterisk indicates unusually limited quantities):

  • Bok choy
  • Chard
  • Collards
  • Dry beans and cowpeas (assorted varieties, including Tiger’s Eye beans, Peregion beans, Red Kidney beans, Pinto beans, and Black Crowder peas)
  • Pecan Cushaw Granola

    Baby spinach
  • Herb plants
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi*
  • Lettuce*
  • Mustard greens
  • Parsnips
  • Pea shoots
  • Radishes
  • Spinach, baby
  • Squash (Kabocha*, Seminole)
  • Sweet potatoes (Orleans* and Murasaki*)
  • Turnips, Japanese salad

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