GRAZING IN THE GRASS! Checking out a nice crop of ‘Aroostook’ Winter Rye (https://www.woodprairie.com/product/rye-seed-organic-aroostook/) during an unseasonably warm evening walk this week.
Grazing on the Rye, from left to right, Caleb and Lizzi’s 18-month-old Rottweiler, Ralph; and 7-month-old brindle Cane Corso, Rudy; plus Amy’s 3-year-old Australian Shepard, Oakley.
This field was harvested of its crop of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes (https://www.woodprairie.com/category/the-organic-garden/certified-organic-maine-certified-seed-potatoes/) in late September and immediately planted back to a crop of ‘Aroostook’ variety Winter Rye which will be harvested as an Organic Seed crop next July. ‘Aroostook’ is the hardiest Winter Rye and handles low soil temps allowing it to grow late into the Fall and start in growing again early the next Spring while patches of snow still grace farm fields.
We undersow the Rye with a combination of three types of Nitrogen-fixing Clover (Medium Red, Alsike and Yellow Blosson Sweet https://www.woodprairie.com/product/clover-seed-organic-medium-red/) plus Timothy Grass seed. The Winter Rye serves as a fast-growing “nurse crop” which protects and encourages the establishment of the slower growing Clovers and Timothy.
The field in the background grew Organic Seed Potatoes a year ago. That field also was planted to Winter Rye immediately after harvest. You can see the lush green crop of Clover now growing out above the silvery grain stubble left after we combined the grain last Summer. Next year we’ll take an early cutting of Clover hay for our cows and then allow them to graze the regrowth beginning in August.
We have a long 4-year Crop Rotation: one year Potatoes followed by three years of soil-building sod. The sod plants take atmospheric Carbon (CO2), and combined with sunlight, convert it into valuable ‘soil organic matter’ (where the “Organic” in Organic Farming comes from) — transferring excess Carbon to where it belongs: in the soil and removed from the air. Caleb, Megan & Jim