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At the end of the season your field will be filled with plant material from crops and weeds that must be cleared out before cover cropping. If your field is small enough, preparing the space for winter cover-cropping can be done without tilling. I haul out as much plant material as possible, clipping stems at the soil level to allow the roots to rot in place and add organic matter as they decay over the winter. I create in-row compost piles on top of rows so that, while material is composting, it is also building the soil beneath it. Any...

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Winter cover cropping in the short season mixed vegetable field Choosing the right cover-cropping schedule, one that accommodates the time and space required for growing the main crop to maturity, can be tricky for the small farm. We small farmers usually don't have ample extra space for adopting a multiple year crop rotation plan which puts portions of the field out of market production for a year or more for cover-cropping. In the future, this is my goal as we open up more of our field for cultivation. For now though, I am currently dealing with this common challenge of...

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Composting in the Winter   Here in the desert we get most of our precipitation in the winter, when we don't have the warmth and sunshine for much growing. For growing crops we have to store and use winter's moisture to irrigate in the summer. With composting, we can do better. Active compost piles generate their own heat, even in the wet and frigid winter. If we can do some of our composting during the long winters we wont have to irrigate our compost piles much in the summer, meaning a major water savings here in the desert.   While...

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Oland Swedish Dry Bean   Beautiful little brown bean! It warms me in winter just to hold the sweet little caramel nuggets in my hands. One of our most popular dry beans, this stunning little gem is traditionally used in Swedish baked bean dishes. We LOVE to slow cook them in the crock pot in a rich broth with molasses and honey.   Of all the dry bean varieties I plant, this one matures and dries down most quickly. This makes it a great choice not only for my short season, but for climates where fall rains can ruin beans...

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Mayflower Dry Bean   What a gorgeous little dry bean! The burgundy color on one side fading to cream on the other is at once rustic and cosmic. Named such because it arrived in the Americas on the Mayflower in the 1620s, this bean also goes by the names 'Red Nightfall', 'Cutshort', and 'Cornfield'.   This pole bean did well in my field and was quite productive. The main downside to this variety is its lateness; the 110 days I had this in the ground were not enough for the whole crop to dry down. We have dry enough falls...

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