We seeded our first round of cool weather crops earlier this week! We planted a variety of brassicas like broccoli and kohlrabi as well as other delicious veggies like leeks and chard. In a couple of weeks we’ll be planting another round of seeds which allows us to space out our timelines for harvesting and transplanting. We’re already seeing germination among this first round of seeds and pest issues have been nearly non-existent thanks to a member of the nightshade family. We found that sprinkling a border of ground and dried cayenne pepper around the legs of our greenhouse tables works effectively and humanely as a pest deterrent.
Our late summer crops are plugging right along as we continue to harvest eggplant, okra, and Bastan peppers. Every couple of days we walk the row between our okra plants and part the leaves searching for the mature seed pods. A member of the mallow family, okra’s mucilaginous qualities are what produce that characteristic “slime” when cooked. Though the entire okra seed pod may be eaten cooked or raw, the seeds can be roasted and ground in order to produce a caffeine-free coffee substitute. This quality came in handy during the Civil War when the importation of coffee beans was disrupted. We haven’t tried it out yet but we are eager to see how the two compare!
Our cowpea cover crop is filling in nicely where our melon patch once was. When using cowpeas as a cover crop, it is often beneficial to inoculate the seeds with “black dust” just prior to planting. This encourages the rhizobium bacteria to form nodules in the soil. The symbiotic relationship between cowpeas and the rhizobium leads to improved nitrogen fixation in the soil which in turn leads to healthier soils and crop yields. In addition to being a great cover crop, cowpea greens and beans are particularly delicious so we’ll be harvesting them for the veggie wagon once they mature.