I'm off! Today is my first farmer-training field day with CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training), which is organized by the non-profit Angelic Organics Learning Center. Yes, for those in the know, this is the same famous Angelic Organics CSA which provides shares to the Chicago-area. The Angelic Organics web site is: http://www.angelicorganics.com/ .
I joined CRAFT a month or two ago, but this is the first field day that has caught my eye. There have been a couple of others, but since I have no livestock they really didn't apply to me. So what is today's training session, you ask?
"Mulches Study on Vegetables: Switch Grass, Straw, and Black Plastic"
And, yes, before you ask... I am very excited about this one! Why? Well, when operating a large-scale organic garden for market (outside sales), weed control becomes a major issue. This is why most large-scale commercial vegetable growers turned to chemical weed control. It's very hard to keep on top of that many weeds. Hence the use of mulches & black plastic! You use these in your veggie rows to keep the weeds down. I actually did some experimentation with this myself this year on our tomato patch. Nearly 300 tomato plants, all tied up nicely, and I purchased local wheat straw which we spread amongst the tomatoes (over a layer of soy-based ink newspaper) when they were a foot tall (before we began trellising them). It worked pretty well - I never needed to weed the tomato patch again all summer, but some weeds did get through, particularly in the walking path. I needed more layers of newspaper as well as a thicker layer of straw, I think.
Since I'm running my farm garden pretty much on my own (my husband helps a few times a month or when I plead with tears in my eyes, lol), I need better weed control. I just can't keep up without some sort of mulching system.
A mulching system is also better on the environment. Why? Less tilling = less soil disturbance = eco-system in the soil undisturbed. Yep. The wormies and buggies get left alone to live their lives & improve the soil.
This field day is thankfully not to far from my home, about an hour away, just over the border to my favorite state of Wisconsin and to the east a bit. It's located in our local Amish country I love to visit and have blogged about before, where I visit Amish-run bulk foods and bent & dent grocery stores. Yes, I'm hoping on visiting the Amish stores before the farmer training to stock up on my whole wheat flour, spices, and olive oil! Gotta make the most out of the trip, after all.
For those interested in learning more about CRAFT (http://www.csalearningcenter.org/what/training/craft) or finding a farmer-training alliance near you, the Angelic Organics Learning Center web site is: http://www.csalearningcenter.org/ .
Thanks for visiting Wishful Acres Organic Farm!