When I interviewed for my position at Countryside, Tracy Emrick (now my boss) showed me one of the greenhouses at Old Trail Farm and told me that many of the plants grown in it last year had disease issues. Even though it would be another month before I was officially hired, I still found myself thinking a lot about what I would do in that greenhouse if it were up to me.
In keeping with my training in sustainable agriculture and the rules of organic certification (Old Trail Farm is a certified organic farm), I decided that biofumigation would be the best approach. Biofumigation is the use of specialized cover crops (crops that are planted to benefit the soil, as opposed to being grown for sale) that are mulched and incorporated into the soil to help the soil out in some way, such as adding organic matter or helping the soil retain nitrogen. Some cover crops can even help combat pathogens and pests!
Brown mustard (Brassica juncea), for instance, contains chemical compounds that can reduce soil-borne pathogens. If you are interested in learning the finer details, here is a link you may be interested in (and if you click that link, you and I should chat because we will probably be good friends!).
So, my wonderful interns and I cleared that greenhouse a few weeks ago and planted a brown mustard cover crop. It has germinated nicely with the help of a sprinkler we set up on a timer so that the soil would stay moist in these hot summer temps. In a few weeks, we will till the area to incorporate the mustard into the soil for maximum results. We will then build some raised beds and this greenhouse will be ready for fall crops!
As an added bonus, we converted half of this greenhouse into a propagation area for growing plant starts for our new healing garden!