This winter saw a repeat of last year’s split planting of Caliente Mustard and Oats to compare effects on soil, disease and plant growth. Seed was provided by True Earth Organics.
To gain benefit from the fumigant properties of the Caliente, it must be soil incorporated as soon as possible. This is why we have the two tractors closely following, one mulching the crop, the other incorporating the residues.
Onions are to be planted in this area for a third season in succession. Our onion crop will also include a new area that has never had onions planted before. As part of our collaboration with Onions New Zealand and Plant and Food Research, we will compare the performance of crops in the different areas.
This winter we have established both Caliente Mustard and Oats in paddocks 1 and 2, the site of our last two years of summer onions.
The ground had not had onions before 2014-2015 as far as we know. We grew our second crop in succession in 2015-2016.
Our plan is to grow onions for a third year, and to pay attention to the development of weeds, pests and diseases. Plant and Food Research reported some evidence of “Pink Root” in a few plants while harvesting samples of the 2015-2016 crop.
After harvest, Gerry and John Steenkamer ripped the beds, leaving the wheel tracks. This is step 1 of a route into permanent bed cropping at the MicroFarm.
Unfortunately, the alignment of the main AB line for the entire block did not match the buried drip irrigation installed some years ago, and it has been damaged beyond repair.
After ripping, Mike Kettle Contracting power harrowed the paddocks to about 100mm to reduce the rubbley surface. The Caliente and Oats were drilled by Kettle Contracting on 16 March.
We chose a split-paddock planting, with Caliente on the northern side and oats on the south. This repeats last winter’s pattern, so we will have two years of onions followed by either Caliente or Oats when we establish the 2016-2017 crop.
Many thanks to True Earth Organics for supplying the Caliente seed, and to G & J Steenkamer and Mike Kettle for groundwork and drilling.