From the Farmer

Caring for Our Soil – CSA Week 14

Happy happy August CSA Members!

We are in the dog days of summer here at the Farm – a lot of sunlight means long hours balancing the maintenance of crops that are growing in our fields (melons, pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash, delicata squash, kuri squash, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, sweet potatoes, scallions, basil, swiss chard, kale, to name a few) and the propagation of up and coming fall crops in our greenhouse (broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, pac choi, kohlrabi, etc.). Luckily the weather sure is beautiful and has been fairly cooperative over the past week so we are very grateful for that!

My main priority over the next couple of weeks is caring for our soil as we convert fields that used to be filled with cucumbers, spring radishes, early tomatoes and spring broccoli, into production fields for the fall. Typically, my field prep process begins with removing any irrigation supplies or plastic mulch that we’ve installed in the field during production and then mowing down the dying vegetation from the previous crop. Once the field has been cleaned and cleared it is ready to be plowed! At Willowsford Farm we use a “Keyline Plow” which digs three deep grooves behind me as I pull the tractor through the field – this begins to break up compaction in the soil and disturbs the grass and weeds growing on the surface. In the farming world we call this “primary tillage” as it is the first step to turning a field over. There are many different tools and methods to approaching the next step, “secondary tillage,” and depending on the crop we strategically choose different routes. Vigorous tilling using a Roto-tiller mixes and chops up the soil thoroughly, which eliminates weeds and makes reseeding and replanting much MUCH easier, HOWEVER it loosens the soil and makes it prone to erosion and also oxides the soil which kills the beneficial micro biome that lives within. Rich healthy soil has often never been disturbed at all! There is an amazing book that talks all about the historical effects of tilling in agriculture called “Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations” by David R. Montgomery, professor of Earth and Space Sciences at University of Washington in Seattle. I seriously couldn’t recommend it more 😊

At Willowsford Farm we are lucky to have some tools that allow us to prepare fields for production without aggressive “secondary tillage.” We regularly cover crop which is another great methodology to prevent soil erosion, and as we prepare for production we return nitrogen to the soil by spreading compost on our fields before we plant. Our baby broccoli plants are readying themselves for the outside world as we speak!

This week in shares we have SWEET POTATO GREENS. I know, I know, you’re thinking, what am I going to do with these?! But don’t worry! Sweet potato greens are actually super mild and tender and are a common ingredient in a lot of African and Asian recipes. I personally like them more than Swiss chard… (don’t tell). I found the following blog posts to be super helpful and informative:

  1. Cooking with Sweet Potato Greens
  2. Sweet Potato Greens

This recipe below also looks amazing. Try adding our peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes to make a delicious curry!!

Small Shares

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Melons
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato Greens
  • Zucchini

Large Shares

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Leeks
  • Melons
  • Peppers
  • Sweet Potato Greens
  • Zucchini

Thanks so much and we will see you at the Farm Stand or at the Boat House for pick up this week!

Be Great and Well,

Anya, Ashley (our new retail manager, she’s the best, make sure to give her a warm WELCOME!), Deb (we’re already missing you) x 22 goats and x1 Alpaca, Anna (our 13 going on 30 year old manager), Dan and Ann, Lex x 800 laying hens, x 17 hogs in the freezer and x 10 in the field, James and Rocko, Nate, Christina, Kate, Amanda, and most importantly Radish the feline queen

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Willowsford Conservancy

41025 Willowsford Lane, Aldie, VA 20105

Phone: 571-440-2400

info@willowsfordconservancy.org

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Willowsford Farm Stand

23595 Founders Drive, Ashburn, VA 20148

Phone: 571-297-6900

farm@willowsfordfarm.com

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