Category Archives: Cover Crops

May 2013

For our SARE funded experiment we are comparing two tilled beds with two no-tilled beds when direct seeding vegetables. This season, we are growing carrots.

tillingThe rototiller goes down at least 6 inches into the soil. When using our no-till methods for direct seeding we only disturb the top two inches at the most.

garytillingDirect seeding requires very neat rows, to make early weeding easier. We usually use string to mark the rows, but as we are constantly trying to find ways to be more efficient we came up with a new idea….

rowmarkingtoolThe Long Rake Row Marker (prototype)! This long rake is exactly the width of our beds and we added special extensions (metal tubes banged in with a hammer)…

rows marked Now all we have to do is drag it across once and four lovely lines appear – perfect for popping in carrot seeds.

tranplanting kaleNo-till transplanting is even less work. We are scything down the cover crop and making small holes for our transplants such as kale, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower…

pac choi transplants Here are some pac choi transplants with the crimson clover and vetch growing back in between. All this coverage keeps the soil healthy and troublesome weeds at bay.

garyscytheElsewhere cover crops are needing to be mowed by Gary… The rye in the paths…

covercrop biomass … and the vetches and clovers give us a huge amount of biomass for composting.

salad greensMeanwhile our succulent salad greens are being enjoyed all over the island…

April 2013

The new season has begun. Wish us Luck!

fourleafcloverIt’s Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday today. Poet, artist, visionary, educationalist¬† and sage. A huge inspiration to Good Earth. Peter Gill who has been Wwoofing with us left this quote in the visitors book last week:

When organised national selfishness, racial antipathy and commercial self-seeking begin to display their ugly deformities in all their nakedness, then comes the time for man to know that his salutation is not in political organization and extended trade relations, not in any mechanical rearrangement of social systems, but in a deeper transformation of life, in the liberation of consciousness in love, in the realization of god in man. Tagore

peter plantingContemplating this goes hand in hand with planting the first spring lettuces!

mum&calfThe nurturing of new life is what Spring is all about.

lambAnd the season’s creative energy and joy is expressed in the small animals that surround the garden at Talking Horse Farm…

baby tomatoes… and the small plants in the greenhouse.

covercrops viewThe garden is thick with cover crop.

covercrops rye in pathsA mix of vetches (purple, hairy & common) and clovers in the beds. (the one on the right also has garlic growing in it). Rye in the paths to suppress the quack grasses. Our beds are 3′ wide and paths 18″ to allow for maximum planting area in a small garden. These cover crops are providing bio-mass above and below the ground, nitrogen and other nutrients.

fava beansIn our SARE experiment beds the fava bean cover crop is almost ready to flower.

garyscytheThe cover crops are scythed multiple times…

japanese tool… and we using this small Japanese tool called a Seikobo (?) to get a closer shave.

transplantsincovercropsTransplants go directly into the cover crop residue…

braising greens…as we continue to harvest last year’s chard, kale and mustard flowers for a braising green mix, thanks to a mild winter.

Feb 2013


Seeds collected in the fall have dried out in the round barn.


These green bean seeds are very satisfying to clean… foot stomping to release the beans from their crunchy shells.


Kentucky Wonders and…




Overwintering Cabbages are still going strong…

fava seedlings

…and our Fava Bean cover crops, planted in two experiment beds (one tilled conventionally and one not tilled) have sprouted.


Amy is doing a Micro-dairy course run by Candace Jagel at WSU Extension.


A very comprehensive course that included a trip to Heritage Farm, to see their dairy set up and to meet their new milking cow, Rose. We dream of adding a few milking goats to the family in the future.


In the meantime we are getting to know these gorgeous girls at Talking Horse Farm. They are a rare meat breed and are living under manager Rob Waldron’s care for this season.

October 2012

As the fall begins its time to cover the bare soil with cover crops. Soil is not soil without plants growing in it. Mostly we are using a mix of clovers and vetches with rye in the paths between the beds.

fava beans

In two of our experiment beds however, we are sowing fava beans.

heather cauli

The garden is yielding plenty of crops, like these stunning cauliflowers picked up by our 2011 intern Heather. She’s working at Lacrover a local farm who are collaborating with Sweet Earth Farm on a westside CSA.


The fragrant Basil (one of the only plants in the green house) is at its peak.


Teaming up perfectly with these heirloom tomatoes to make a mediterranean sauce fit for the first clay-oven fired pizza…

pizza oven