Here’s our main garden now, with pumpkin and winter squash growing in the foreground. A cover crop of blackeyed peas is growing thick in the middle rows which we have finished harvesting for this season. Actively growing summer varieties are at the back.
Although we are still in the middle of the current season harvest, it’s time to think about next year. With a successful season underway we are hoping to expand our harvest next year, which of course means a bigger area to farm. Since we are converting open pasture into vegetable gardens, now is the time to plow and till so that the existing grasses can be killed by the intense summer heat. The recent rains have turned the hard soil into soft, tillable earth for a few days, so we have to seize the opportunity.
We’ve decided to triple the total garden space, which means tilling up another 20,000 square feet of earth. In the left photo is the existing garden with the pasture bordering. The right picture shows the same area, a little zoomed in, after a pass with the tractor and tiller.
Here’s another view from the far side, looking back at the main garden. This is the first of three passes we need to make over the next few weeks. Hopefully we’ll get another rain in 2 or 3 weeks and we can till again which will help exhaust the grass roots before they can re-establish. And then a third pass in late August, in which we’d also sow more blackeyed peas, would be perfect.
The final photo on the right shows where we’ve tilled a finished row within the main garden, again after sowing blackeyed peas. Hopefully it will look like the row just above it in several weeks. In cooler weather this fall, we will mow down the blackeyed peas and till in seeds for winter peas as the cover crop. Those peas will grow into a dense mat about a foot think. We’ll mow and till those about three weeks before we plant next spring.