No-till Seasonal Rotation

It was challenging to time my rotation this Spring.  I had waited and waited and tried to coax out every pumpkin I could get.  Then when the production made a swift drop, I went with a hunch and climbed up on the tractor to mow the vines and the grass. There is a point, that even after pruning, and amending the squash plants, where their production levels take a severe drop.  For me this came just short of year #2 when the well tended vines were about 21 months old.  I watched daily for male blooms, but when even their numbers were down, I made the drastic cuts and rebuilding that I will be rewarded for later this Summer.

The no-till patch is created in a clock like pattern of raised mounds of homemade soil.  The mounds were constructed from brewery waste hops, horse manure, mulch, coconut fiber, and fish emulsion created in April of 2013.  The images show the following: The mowed field grass dried in the sun, checking the farm made soil mounds for quality, new cardboard was sheet mulched into the center of the “clock like” growing patch. This card board builds soil, retains water, and will give the worms a great place to thrive.  I started to wet the cardboard with the overhead, then the rains came, which was very good luck. Next image is of roughly 1/2 of the clock patch being mowed and altered to a time.  I have weekly orders to fill, so I must leave as many active plants going as possible, while I begin the new plants.  Weather can be very up and down this time of year (hot days quickly turn to cold horizontal rains like today) Growth can be sluggish for the vines that like normal summer type days.  Next image, I am pulling back the cut grass to show the growing mounds that became lost in a sea of vines and creeping grass.  These mounds will be weeded, amended with farm made fish emulsion, then surrounded by cardboard as in the circle center.  Then I will replant with a variety of heirloom squash, some tomatillos and okra…maybe some eggplants…

It felt risky to chop any vine that was producing, but I know as those new productive vines sprawl in a couple of months, I will be sitting back in my chair, sipping a lime aid, thinking that this was exactly what needed to be done.

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