“Dad,” my daughter says as I get home from work, “Mom was on a field trip with us today and said ”˜Hey gang!’ It was so embarrassing.” She looks at me unblinking as if I should understand. “Dad!” she shakes her hands at me, “It’s sooo Scooby Doo!” She stalks off before I can respond, and for a second, while I’m trying to figure out how my wife blew my daughter’s cover, I’m back in high school confused and trying to translate Latin verbs.
While the growing seasons of kids may change year by year, I find quiet consolation in the fact that fruit trees don’t just up and get all like, “You know—whatever, that music is so from the 60s or something!” I was reminded of this peaceful cycle of the planet when talking recently about last week’s FruitGuys Farm Steward Program in support of Baia Nicchia Farm and their healthy soil in Sunol, CA (Alameda County).
FruitGuys employees and customers helped plant tomato seedlings that will provide tomatoes for The FruitGuys West Coast home delivery mix of organic fruits and veggies. We now offer this CSA-style program nationwide, but regional—produce comes from local farms. Click here to see what’s in this week’s box.
I think one of the most interesting aspects of farm stewardship is the management of a “cover” crop. Cover crops are plants that help the soil by controlling erosion, reducing weeds, and/or improving soil quality. While volunteering at Baia Nicchia, the crew noted that the dirt was full of plant matter—big bits of daikon radish, basil, stems, etc., plus there were ladybugs and earthworms everywhere. The farmer explained that daikon is a great cover crop for a number of reasons, including the fact that when they’re pulled up, they leave a nice open area for water to seep into as well as space for the roots of a new tomato plant.
The organic matter left in the soil creates a sort of glue as it decomposes, which makes the dirt clumpy so it won’t blow away. Bell beans are another cover crop utilized by the farm. These help transfer nitrogen into the soil, leaving the dirt rich and ready for planting. Daikon and bell beans are a perfect cover duo to help the new tomato plants grow using natural and organic methods.
If you and your co-workers are interested in helping out on a farm, let us know and we’ll keep your hands dirty. Just email us at email@example.com. As always, click the ladybug icon on our homepage to check out our weekly mixes.
Enjoy & Be Fruitful!
—Chris Mittelstaedt, firstname.lastname@example.org