We plant cover crop the old fashioned way, by hand, with a hand crank/over
the shoulder canvas bag. It's hard work, striding up and down the fields,
in the soft loose soils, turning the crank and watching the seed fly.
There's no need to go to the gym after a day of planting the cover crops,
one receives plenty of exercise walking in the soft loose soil. A ten acre
field takes some six miles of strenuous walking.
I like planting the cover crop seed. I like the smell of the fresh soil as
my feet sink in the soft Earth. I like the strain of walking in that fresh
Earth, the way it makes my heart pound and my lungs strain. It's good to
get a work-out doing something I enjoy and knowing the Earth benefits from.
It makes me hopeful to think of the plants that will rise up out of the
fields from last Sunday's planting.
Choosing cover crop seed is a matter of holistic consideration. We need to
decide what it is our crop to do. Should it hold the soil in place over
winter? Should it soak up excess nitrogen? Should it produce nitrogen?
Will we want it to suppress weed growth in spring or fall, or seed
germination next spring? Maybe it should winter kill and leave a decaying
bed of mulch to plant through next spring. The pigs will want their pasture
full of tasty nutritious treats by early summer. And the wild things will
need to be taken into consideration too.
After deciding what it is our cover crop is to do, we choose the best
species for the job. Then, finally we get to mix the seed. This is the
best part, pouring the seed into the our biggest garden cart, specie by
specie, getting them ready to mix together. I like all the different
shapes and sizes of the seed, and the color. The different seed types make
a mosaic of colors and textures unequaled.
But most of all I like the way they feel...the way the seed flows through
your hands as you start the mixing process. They flow, like water through
your fingers. And they always feel cool, even on the hottest days. I think
it's their life force that makes them feel so good. It gives me goose
bumples just to think of it. There's a lot of life in that garden cart, and
it's that caress of life that I look forward to this time of year.
It started to rain as I put the tractor away after disking the seed in. It
was a long easy rain that lasted three days. That rain nurtured the life
force in those seeds, and now, a week later, the fields are covered with a
carpet of green growing seedlings. Life is strong in those seedlings and I
hpoe that force be with us always.