Winter Squash Wonderland
On: November 02, 2015
As I pull in local farmer Jon Branstrator’s gravel drive, I see him in the distance making adjustments to his tractor in the field. I’ve always been impressed with Jon’s knowledge on so many things, from farming to scuba diving. I drive my truck down the path to get a closer look. “Just setting this baby up to plant some winter rye for next year’s cover crop.”
Using cover crops for pumpkins and winter squash protects the quality of the harvest and it protects the soil from water erosion keeping valuable nutrients right where they belong. The rye grows well in the cool fall and spring seasons, and provides a soft blanket for the winter squash varieties, such as butternut and acorn, to grow clean with very little contact with the soil. “It also allows me to farm no-till,” he says.
Maintaining soil integrity and crop rotation is important to Jon and the farm’s sustainability. Located just south of Caesar Creek State Park, Branstrator Farm has been in Jon’s family since the early 1900s and Jon still lives in the original Sears Roebuck farmhouse built by his family in 1908. If you are in the area, stop by his farmstand and say “hello.” Jon will be the one in the field with the big smile.