Seeding the Field

The greenhouse has been bursting full of seedlings for a while, but now the outdoor beds are warm and dry enough for some direct seeding. It's been hard to wait, but working the soil when it is too wet is bad for its structure and cold soil is a recipe for rot, even with cold hardy plants (like peas).

Below you can see some remnants from last year's garden that haven't been incorporated yet. There are cabbages and cornstalks here and in the far right background you can see some kale. I'll take the cornstalks off the field and compost them separately (to avoid the repeated soil disturbance that would be necessary to break them down in place) but the rest will be incorporated.

I generally choose to leave unharvested crops in place until the spring if there isn't time for a cover crop to protect the soil - the roots hold the soil in place and prevent erosion and contribute to the organic matter. Cornstalks also catch snow and hold on to it which insulates the ground to some extent and provides water. The downside of leaving the plant matter unincorporated is the risk of harboring disease - something I need to watch out for with this method.

Here's the Jang seeder in action. First plantings of spinach, beets and peas are in!

Here's the Jang seeder next to the Earthway. The Jang is a huge upgrade over the Earthway - it makes a more consistent furrow, more accurately picks out one seed at a time, and allows you to set the plant spacing independently of the seed plate. That said, I still use the Earthway for planting large seeds, marking rows and planting cover crops, which are all tasks that it does well. In the picture below, I'm pointing to the gearbox that allows independent adjustment of the seed plate turning rate, which is driven by the front wheel.

Spring is here!