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Cover Crop Sowing Party November 11 2017

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A month after the City Farm SLO Fall Harvest Festival, Central Coast Grown hosted a work party to continue work on developing our school garden and public gathering site.  Twenty five volunteers answered our invitation and showed up at 10:00 A.M. on a beautiful Saturday morning, many of them for the first time.

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They divided into groups of two and three, each having responsibility for one of seven flagged plots, and took up rakes, shovels, pick axes, and wheel barrows to smooth the previously rototilled soil, remove remaining clods, and create grooves for seeding.

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Then they hand-strewed tiny strawberry clover seeds treated with organic inoculant to promote germination.  Clover is a low growing legume which when mowed will enrich the soil with lots of nitrogen.  The same ground was then covered with winter rye grass seed which will grow fast and tall.

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Both plants are perennial so that they wont have to be replanted, and the soil in future will remain untilled. Once the seeds were on the ground, the soil was again lightly raked to cover them and then flattened with a water-filled roller to assure good contact with the seeds.

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As at the Harvest Festival, the event drew people of all ages from many walks of life, including a Cal Poly Professor and four of his students whom he’d invited.

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The activity was carefully planned, but when problems came up plans were changed and problems were solved by discussion and experiment.

The cover crop was sown over the whole area, and some additional work mulching the food forest was completed before the distribution of fresh vegetable snacks–carrots, peas, beans and bell peppers supplied by tenant farmer Javier Mangana.

Three days later the instructor at City Farm School discovered that the seeds were attacked by birds.  Since we’re waiting for the rains to set them germinating and none was expected for a while, the sowing party’s work was at risk.

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He started taking apart some of the strawbales used on the Festival hayride and spreading straw to cover the seedbeds, assisted by a brisk wind.  After a few minutes three people happened to show up and immediately helped out with this pleasant task.

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By the end of an hour, the whole cover crop area was covered.

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Work parties are planned for the second Saturday of the month.  Next one is December 11.  Come join us!

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