Monday, May 13, 2013
This is just a little post with a few pictures. This is a crimson clover cover crop in the garden over the weekend (Mother's day weekend 2013). A cover crop is something you grow in the garden for some other reason than to harvest for food. It can nourish the soil as in the case of legumes (vetch, peas, fava beans, clover), crowd out weeds (buckwheat) and hold the soil and build carbon (oats, rye).
I live in the Pacific Northwest. I've experimented with a few different cover crops and this is by far my favorite for winter. I sow in September/early October. I often rake it in around my tomatoes, or brassicas that are still standing. Then I just cut the plants off at the stem and let the soil be so the seeds can germinate.
This is a bed that needs rest and repair this year. I planted some peas nearby for eating. But after this is done, I'll dig it in and plant buckwheat in May or June. It will out compete weeds and also be easy to pull out for clearing. The buckwheat flowers are also wonderful bee food, giving me rich, dark, buckwheat honey (if I'm lucky). I find I can sow buckwheat into a bed may-July for a cover. If I've prepped a bed and don't plan on sowing my regular crop in the next 3 weeks, I give it a covering of buckwheat.
I buy my cover crop seeds by the pound. I have good luck collecting buckwheat seeds for saving too.