News From the Farm | February 19, 2018

What was most notable about the farm this last week was how a series of gently warm afternoons created just sufficient enough enticement to inspire many plants and crops into an explosion of blooms and young leaves.  The nights and mornings were cold, which meant cold fingers in the packing shed when the first of the day’s harvested crops arrived to be rinsed and packed.  But by early afternoon the days were warm, and the blessings of life were impossible to ignore in this beautiful Valley.

At this time of year many of our fields are growing cover crops.  These are crops that we grow to feed the soil — we don’t harvest them for sale.  Cover crop roots harvest deep nutrients and bring them to the surface for future crops.  Cover crop leaves harvest nitrogen from the air.  When turned back to the soil these crops build organic matter and feed microbial life, and those microbes in turn play a miraculous part in feeding the crop roots that follow in our fields.

All of us are looking over our shoulders for rain these days. It is getting late in the California rainy season, and there has been very little rain. The hills on either side of the Capay Valley, east and west, are brown, not green, because there has been insufficient rain to grow the annual grasses.  The cover crops on the farm are a startlingly green color in the sun, but they haven’t grown the way they would have if there had been more rain. The cover crop biomass that can be created by rain and sun is another reason in addition to the nutritional benefits, that we grow the cover crops.  When they return to the soil, they build the organic matter and the structure of the soil, which results in a tremendous ability for the soil to hold water in a rain storm and save it for growing plant roots when they become thirsty.

Because it hasn’t rained much, we have been irrigating the crops that you are turning into your weekly meals when you get them in your box.  Because the soil isn’t wet, we can get in and out of fields, planting flowers, lettuce, carrots and greens.  But once planted, because it isn’t raining, we have had to irrigate.

Irrigating, planting, preparing the greenhouse for seedlings, weeding, harvesting, tending to sheep giving birth to lambs — that’s the news from the farm this week.  We’ve been busy!  But those flowers that bloomed in the wonderful early California Capay Valley spring may be short-lived.  It is predicted that there will be very cold night temperatures in the week to come.  We will watch and wait to see how the blossoms fare as the weather dips and dives and plays it’s part in our seasonal story.

Meanwhile, we thank all of you for playing your part in our seasons —

Blessings on your meals.

—Judith Redmond