Ah, Spring in Vermont. 70 degrees one day. Eight inches of heavy wet snow a couple days after that. Sprinkle in a little sideways hail with some high winds yesterday and a feathery light snow this morning.
The Earth is shaking off her winter slumber, trying on some different weather outfits and gearing up for another growing season with long days and warm sun.
We can only do so much to mitigate the erratic weather. Our primary strategy for growing healthy, resilient plants is to encourage a rich soil with lots of organic matter and microbial diversity.
Growing cover crops is one way we do it.
In the photo to the left, you’ll see peas, oats, and radishes just starting to sprout between the old stalks of last year’s plants. They each bring a unique function to the soil-building effort.
Radishes will form underground but will not be harvested, instead left to decay there, creating a cavity for aeration and water penetration while also providing food for the microbes.
Peas pull nitrogen from the atmosphere and transform it into a form accessible to plants, with the help of more microbes of course!
Oats will grow to be a nice height over the next month before getting chopped and dropped in place for weed suppression while also adding more organic matter to be incorporated into the beds.
The worms are an indication that things are going well, and we’ve certainly seen an increase in the population as we enter our third year of prepping the soil at the Bravo home farm.
And while we don’t mind the hard work that comes with working the soil, that job has gotten so much easier by employing regenerative strategies like cover cropping. Our favorite field tool, the broadfork, now sinks into the Earth so far, we’re considering one with longer tines to reach even deeper.
When the soil is healthy and alive, the plants get what they need. When the plants get what they need, they provide for us in abundance. Acknowledging this and tending these relationships is how we say “thanks” to our magnificent home planet, today and everyday.