Nothing shouts Fall louder than these two winter staples. They just go together and this week we are featuring them in a recipe that consistently ranks as one of the all-time favorite Klesick Farm recipes – Potato Leek Soup. Soups are efficient, nutritious, and can make a great multi day family meal option. The great thing about soups is that you can jazz them up from day to day by adding a protein or more or different vegetables. Greens like Kale and Chard or Spinach can be easily added, too.
As Fall has officially started, many of us farmers are just like you, wishing for a few more days of warmth to put the finishing touches on our crops. These cool nights and warm days send a signal to the plants to switch gears and focus on ripening their fruit. And alas at the same time, production drops off on tomatoes, zukes, cukes and beans. In some ways it is a welcome change and other ways you are back to wishing for a few more days of that fleeting heat.
I think it is about right, the weather, the crops, and the fall season. A good chunk of the farm has been tucked in for the winter with cover crops, which desperately needed the moisture we have received recently to germinate. Cover crops are aptly named, because their primary purpose is to cover the soil and protect it from the winter storms that can cause soil compaction, soil erosion and nutrient leaching. That is an important function on any farm and the benefits definitely outweigh the costs.
For a cover crop to be successful it has to get established and be at least a few inches tall going into the winter. This is why we try and get them planted in early September (check) and then get some water (check) and then some more nice weather (Jury is still out, but hopeful). Cover crops begin to pay for themselves, because as the crop starts to grow it uses any extra/unused nutrients to grow pulling them out of the soil and storing them in the plant. By doing this the plant is essentially acting as a living storage system and keeping the nutrients on the farm and not being leached away with floods or rain.
You might ask why is this so important, the simple answer is because we don’t want another Dead Zone like the one in the Gulf of Mexico that has been caused by the leaching of excess fertilizers/nutrients from agriculture soils. Cover crops wouldn’t have completely prevented the Dead zone, but it sure would have helped to not create the problem.
Cover crops are important and organic farmers have really embraced the use of them.