|cherry blossoms outside the farm office|
There are lots of things going on with a piece of land that can have huge impacts on a farm operation. How was it used in the past? What kind of soil does it have? How much sun does it get? How does the water drain? What kinds of weeds grow there? Is the topography rolling, sloped, or relatively flat? Are there frost pockets? How about standing water? What animals, insects, and other organisms live there? Getting to know a piece of land is as hard as getting to know a person. Maybe even more so, since it doesn't talk.
|water erosion at the edge of my plot|
My plot is relatively flat at the top, but has a slight slope as it moves south. That slope could present some erosion problems, but it's also south-facing, so it might turn out to be a good place to put my heat-loving crops like tomatoes and peppers. Even though we've had lots of sun and very little rain in the past week, the soil today felt like a hard ball of clay when I squeezed it. Seems like it could take a while, and a lot more dry weather, before it can be tilled up and made into beds for planting.
|Canada thistle, already scheming to take over my farm!|
The cover crop is looking great--it's noticeably taller than last time I was there--but some weeds are also showing their heads. One that I will be keeping a close eye on is the noxious weed Canada thistle. I've been warned that the property has an infestation, and it's even in my contract that I have to keep it under control on my plot. Already those nasties are showing their heads, mostly in the parts with the least cover crop and the most disturbance, like where there are tractor tracks or channels from water erosion.
Next week, I'll be able to learn even more about my plot when we have a meeting with Nick Andrews, a soil specialist from OSU Extension. We'll all get soil tests taken last fall from our individual plots, and we'll work out a fertility plan for the coming year. I'm looking forward to learning even more about the lay of my land!
|lush cover crop|