I have become a true farmer, it would seem, with no time for anything, including blogging! Now that the weather has finally broken here during my August break in the cool north, where it’s been nearly as hot as Spain for my first 10 days, sigh, I seem to have the mental clarity to write again. Here’s a photo of salad fixings from the second half of June.
Production this year was quite poor compared to last year, for reasons we’re not quite sure of. The northern tomatoes did fine until the heat hit, like last year. But the local peppers, eggplants and cucurbits didn’t seem that happy with the slow and very humid entry into summer. The cucurbits were mostly out by freeze in the last third of March; the heavy mulching I applied helped most of them survive but it really set them back.
One thing we did manage this summer was to get all five of our ground covers established and surviving (if at times looking a bit parched) on a three-week blanket irrigation rotation. The photo shows what in the future we hope much of our orchard areas will look like in the spaces between trees, with a mixture of sulla clover (Hedysarum coronarium — pink flowers and large leaves) and Lotus corniculatus (delicate yellow flowers and leaves) plus a local ¨meter-long¨ bean that is a real winner: tender, tasty green beans.
The vibrant green leaves in the areas where our soil is most exhausted (this was a burn pit we filled in with soil from some of the still-abandoned areas of the farm) speak of decisive adaptation to the local biome. Additionally, esparceta, Egyptian clover and yarrow from last year have proven themselves both perennial and capable of propagation.
This means positive steps forward in nitrogen self-sufficiency, but also in water conservation, as extensive ground cover will shade the soil and help trap both irrigation water and dew. Next summer we plan to directly sow mixtures of ground cover and garden vegetable seeds as well as plant seeds directly into established stands of ground cover, in order to see what works best.