for me it is always a win win thing ..I plant mustard in my main garden and in the spring I mow it close and then till it all under..In my raised beds I plant crimson clover and overseed my lawns with Crimson Clover..The main drawback to the crimson is it gets really pretty so is hard to make oneself mow it down as early as needed some years I have overseeded with Rye Grass ,but feel a little dumb out mowing the lawn in the winter LOL
If I lived somewhere with a longer winter I would, but my garden will be full of many fall crops until late November and some parts will have winter hardy crops like cabbage until December. Then come February it's time to plant cool weather crops again. We have stuff that grows here in the winter, but there's nothing I'm aware of that I could plant in winter and have it sprout and grow in that short time frame.
I'm open to changing my mind, though, since I think cover cropping has many benefits for soil health, and the only downsides can be managed by cover crop choice.
I'm trying out sun hemp in one bed and purple top turnips in another. I'm using the sun hemp as I have some left over from planting out a winter browse stand for the goats. The turnips as well, and they will feed the chickens too. All will be tilled under this spring as I am trying to build up the soil volume. I have a mix of peas, various clovers, and rye for my next winter browse project for the goats. If I have any left over I will use that too. I got all of this at the local feed co-op. They sent my soil off to be tested and it looks as if my soil if fairly neutral but what I really need is green manure for organic matter and volume and to help break up the soil after years of cattle traffic and overgraising.
LOL! I will eat turnips and I will mix mustard greens into a salad. But not that many! I'm doing a pretty big/long bed for the turnips so that I can feed the hens as well. They seem to lay more (especially in winter) if I feed them greens and fresh veg/fruit. The purple top turnips were cheap for a 50 lbs bag at the co-op!
LOL, Linda. Every time I look at a list of winter cover crops for the South I see those and I think... "but I EAT those!"
For my new raised beds I broadcast a bunch of the radish, turnip, etc. seed I had leftover but wasn't favorites. Well, with this weather I had really excellent germination and it's so thick out there I'm not sure they'll develop good roots. I haven't felt like thinning -- the winter doldrums have come upon me soon this year -- but maybe I can re-cast my laziness as cover cropping?
I hope to get out and sow some 'cover crops' . Last year I grew-- and ate-- a lot of red giant mustard. Even up here zone 7 (maybe 8 in the one garden) it grew great all winter and really took off in spring. I decided it would be awesome to grow all over my garden, to keep the winter weeds down, and then what I can't eat, would make a great green manure.
I'm just playing a waiting game with flowers in the garden, and other cleanup, be fore getting some sort of seeds out there.
Cover crops can give you more harvest for the space, keep the weeds from sprouting, and I also read that keeping live roots in the soil can help your soil organisms.
The main reason for the mustard being at the top of my list of cover crops is that we love mustard greens so tell me more about the Giant red Mustard I grow the Florida Broadleaf as that is all that is available locally..one of my Nephews is sending me some tendergreen > this year I have even overseeded my front lawn with a mixture of crimson clover and mustard, like the looks of the broadleaf waving in the breeze Hmmm maybe it is just that something that is very edible just appeals to me..
Giant Red is very attractive in the garden- reddish purple with green veins!. In my limited experience- Good flavor that gets pretty hot when weather heats up in spring. I did not use it for salad, just cooked greens that were very tasty in winter.
I sowed Daikon tillage radishes in August as soon as the first five plantings of corn were done. I chop the corn while it is still green into short pieces, add some rotted horse manure, and till that up some, and then sow the radishes. They are about 18 inches tall now and will winter kill here about Christmas. I sowed another plot in early August and some more areas after they were done with their spring or summer crops.
They make a very long root and "till" the soil deeply...adding organic matter and holding nutrients till spring. I might not advise planting them where they don't winter kill...
I planted radish seeds (couple kinds) and spinach and komatsuna seeds last week Komatasuna was up in record time (days) and will make a green leafy cover, probably won't dieback here.
THen my big bag of spinach seed was left in the rain so I have a potential big cover crop of spinach going .
The henbit is already growing 'great' here.
I planted buckwheat last Sunday morning both in my old garden and some new ground i am expanding into, and it has broken through the crust this morning, Wednesday, so it is pretty strong. Never used it before, but have heard it makes a good cover crop.
So we will see how it works.,
I use FAVA BEANS as cover crop on my raised veggie garden.
Every fall/winter I use a 8" area for the Fava Beans. I love to eat the beans, the flowers and leaves of the plant too.
When the spring come and I need the room for other crops, I cut down to the soil the fava bean plants. I live their roots in the soil because they have little round pockets, which they are full of nitrogen.
As a result, anything I plant in that area grow really lush.
Dried vetch plants do nothing for soil as the 'green' manures benefits are good only at a specific time in that plants cycle- sorry, pod- same for the crimson clovers benefits, Fava beans are a bit diff as cover crop, sunshine hemp is a new one to me. Many have winter wheat going in, or oats, but if they are late sown and don't get roots established before the soil cools and the plants go dormant, they aren't apt to survive. We do sow mustards turnips beets parsnip for cool weather then tuen under in the spring when it gets so hot they get ready to bolt. I have bronze mustard- red one is one I need to check on...
Kittriana ~ the article that I had read that suggested that indicated the roots adding the nitrogen and when the vines are cut and laid on the surface, they will act as a mulch for moisture retention. Any thoughts?
They do, tho rotation crops done by farmers turn the whole plant in, and seeds go in ground immed after sowing, so the dying plants In ground are where the nutrition for the seeds are, and the crop is one that requires the nitrogen the vetch supplied. Depends on what nutrient you needed as to type of rotation/ cover crop. Poor mans alfalfa it was called- vetch - wasn't as dependable as the fertilizers we have access to now. As far as erosion controls, the rye, oats, winter wheats crimson clovers are best, daikon radish if you are guaranteed freeze kills are an awesome chioice too, but whatever the reason, cover crops are definitely a winning situation. Grits? You gonna be mowing anyway- and the neighbors love seeing green in drab ol winterdays.
Problem with that Kitt is the mustard is a pale green never even thought about that until it stated coming among the Bermuda grass oh well I am determined to hav e something green in the front yard ...Hey I need a good soaking rain
As in Dutch clover? It is 50/50 kill or keep depending on what you want it for. Can choke out a lawn- tap root can reach 3' down, but as far as 60" in the right soil- which could be hard to get rid of. I prefer the crimson clovers to the Dutch, they aren't as tuff. Can provide green in the winter in southern climates.
The attached picture shows the New Zealand White clover i used for cover crop and a working road between the tree rows in Idaho. It was very suitable, no diseases, no winter kill, not too invasive, and mowing it produced a lot of organic matter. It would last about the five years it took to grow out the trees, or it could be turned under sooner to build the soil.
My garden soil here does not need much nitrogen, so i planted the buckwheat this year or maximum organic.
Okay now I have to fess up the Crimson Clover is very cheap and is totally beautiful..I can get the crimson for $70 per 50lbs same with the broadleaf mustard very cheap and I am all about cutting down on my expences wherever I can ..
Since so many plants can be used to accomplish the same thing - if your soils can grow them- then bottom line is using the cheapest form of cover crop you have available- bees love both clovers- and even the mustards- ernies clover lasts him 5 yrs- but might not be feasible in other situations.
I am sure it was unusual to use the clover for roads the way i did, but as i dug those trees during Spring Thaw, and needed to get through the mud, and i just showed it to illustrate how versatile it was. It was developed in NZ for sheep pasture, as it produces a lot of plant material and can stand very close grazing, and i also used it for green manure where it would be plowed under at the end of the growing season. People that have goats or rabbits or chickens, etc, could get a lot of forage from it before plowing it under. It is very versatile, but with so many combinations of ground cover, moisture availability and types of soil, there are many many combinations to choose from.
Cheap is always good, but should always be evaluated on what gives the most benefit for each dollar. Or, the old phrase, "It is Never what it Costs you, it is What it makes You." It happened that the NZ was cheaper in my area than the Dutch, which it may resemble. Bees did like it, but Sweet Clover, that grew wild along the roadsides, makes the best honey.
I am liking what i see of the Buckwheat, as it was planted 9 days ago and some of it is over two inches high already. It has leaves on it, and is not grassy like regular wheat. Wild Mustard may be good for this area as it grows wild around here, but may be too tall to rototill in easily. Maybe weedwhack it before tilling it.
Ernie keep us posted on the Buckwheat I have read many good things about it ..all of the mustard that I grow gets to tall to rototill in without mowing first Just wraps around the tines ..several years ago we had bad dust storms which is totally out of character for this part of Ok. turns it wasn't dust altogether cause come spring every roadside and fallow field was coveredwith a tall white clover >>beautiful> it flowered then died down but did not reseed and has never been back..
I agree tall plants are difficult to rototill. I have been having good luck weedwhacking 6' tall Asparagus Ferns, CA poppies, etc., before roto, just starting at the top and working down the plants. Really chops it up fine.
What the Bee Keeper called White Clover in Idaho was a tall thin plant with white flowers, sounds like your plant, that only grew along the roadsides. It was not planted commercially that i am aware of, and did not always grow in the same places every year. Not sure if that is natural or affected by County Weed Control.
I plan to mow the Buckwheat to keep it short, if ground does not get too muddy during the rainy season. If i cannot mow it, we will weedwhack it. I do not know yet how tall or viny it will get, but will keep you posted.
Grits, When i was talking about the tall white flowered clover that grows along the roadside in a couple of posts above, I misspoke and called the plant "white clover", but the correct name for it up there was " Sweet Clover". Sorry if i confused anyone.
I did not look it up, i just rememembered what the BeeKeeper called it. As i said, i do not recall seeing it used as a commercial crop.
We always called the low growing clover with white blossoms either Dutch or New Zealand, so i am not familiar with any clover being called just White Clover, probably because there are at least the three with white blossoms.
I do recall as a boy that they referred to the clover with red or purple blossoms as "Burr" clover, but i have never grown any of that, either.
Red clover, crimson clover are actually diff var same thing. I remember a burr clover, but not sure what I remember it being attached to...same with the whites- they can get deep if the right var... my memories arent nearly aas fresh as they should be...
The one with the little circles of spikes- a hitchhiker- yellow flower, you are
Abt my dads age- and his fields have shrunk to a raised garden and traved from Okla/Tx/NM to lower Ca, chuckl. I understand.
There are a lot of Arkansas Travelers, for sure. But after having lived in the humid midwest and the dustbowl drought, to the bone dry CA desert, and 14 feet of snow in the the Mountains of Idaho, and the big Cities, too, i finally figured out there is just no place as nice as the climate in Southern California. But it has to be good, or no one would live in CA because of the terrible Political Climate.
I had not grown anything for 15 years until i bought this house on a half acre in 2011. Nothing had been grown here for 20 years, just used as a car repair and parking lot.
Very rich, fertile soil beneath the crust, but we have actually had to jackhammer some parts of it. But i am improving the last piece of it now, with the Buckwheat, so the hard part is over with.
thanks for the link it re-affirms faith in Crimson Clover,The Mayor of Talihina has let me purchase 50lbs of seed to sow on some banks and in some planters or any where I deem it to be feasible ..May not help this rocky soil much but it will be pretty,,,Kinda strange about the Favas not being allowed to bloom before turning under..i don't think they would do all that well here as it seems a bit cold for most beans
To get the maximum benefit fromt the clover i planted on the Tree Nursery, I would mow it with a flail mower, and let it remain on the ground. The roots would not be disturbed for the five years it took to grow out the trees. That way i was getting the benefit of the top growth for organic material and the nitrogen nodules on the roots were left to increase the nitrogen in the soil.
Unless the clover is part of an annual crop rotation that needs to be turned under each year, it might be left to improve the soil until you need the ground or the plants get old and weaken.
Each situation will be different, but the tops help amend the soil, and the nitrogen is in the roots, or so it seems to me.
grits74571 wrote:Well now I just plant it for the beauty it is a sight to see when it is blooming and the wind blows it just waves in the wind ,kinda gives me one of those lumps in the throat moments..
AMEN! Enjoyment for the sheer beauty of it.
Texas Highway Dept plants it in areas to prevent erosion.
We have it by our driveway and I love it when it blooms.
I've been guilty of taking pictures of it... lol
Christi here it seldom reseeds and even more rarely comes back once it has went to seed of course some of that is due to the city workers spraying weed killer on everything in their path ,but I think this year we have a deal they are not to spray or mow anywhere that we designate as a clover growing area ...Yeah Right..
Sounds like the infinite wisdom of the highway dept here. They spend large sums of dollars to plant wildflowers on the roadsides and then, before the blooms reseed, mow it down. I have noticed 'designated wildflower ~ do not mow' signs. Perhaps you might find someone there with artistic talents to paint you a few of those signs?
Buckwheat is doing pretty good. Planted five weeks ago, and this partly in garden ground i worked one year and two years. Best ground BW is 16 inches tall and showing some small white blooms. worst ground where it looks like topsoil was scraped off years ago, is only 4 to 6 inches tall, but the small plants have done a good job of locating the trouble spots for me, so i will know where to add the most amendments.
I mowed a little bit of the taller plants to see what the regrowth potential is but will wait and see on that. Extreme temps since planting have been 30 to 90 degrees but vast majority of temps have been between 50 and 70. I will probably use it again as it is a pleasant crop to grow, but so far, I do not think it yields as much mass as some of the denser growing plants to.
podster wrote:Sounds like the infinite wisdom of the highway dept here. They spend large sums of dollars to plant wildflowers on the roadsides and then, before the blooms reseed, mow it down. I have noticed 'designated wildflower ~ do not mow' signs. Perhaps you might find someone there with artistic talents to paint you a few of those signs?
They do the same thing in Florida. Some 15 years ago or so, they planted annual Phlox along roadsides all over the area, then mowed it in the spring. It still shows up around some fencerows, ditches and fields where they weren't able to get the mowers in.
They did that on my road, a few years ago. I called the county and they said that was the schedule. Needless to say we have a lot less Wildflowers every year. Spend all that money to sow the seeds and all that money to mow the plants down. : (
I've just quickly looked thru these posts but am wondering what could be planted to crowd out all kinds of weeds and grow something that would actually be left to grow as a "lawn" instead of grass. Would the red clover work? Get too tall and have to be mowed? Haven't any experience with cover crops but would like something besides grass as lawn.
Red clover gets pretty tall. White clover stays fairly low, but it's tenacious stuff. Even Round-Up doesn't kill it completely.
I love the clover in my lawn. It attracts lots of bees. Someone with kids running around may not care as much for the plethora of bees and the way it stains clothes. But the clover really is only vigorous in the spring and winter. At the peak of summer, it struggles in the heat.
My "lawn" also has a high percentage of creeping charlie and violets, both of which I like I the lawn since they are pretty and low growing, but are a bear to deal with as weeds in your garden and landscape beds. They are also cool weather plants. They linger in the heat but the violets get a little scorched sometimes.
im going to plant buckwheat early spring here..
thinking i should do again in late fall too..
i dont have many weeds in the vegy garden..but from my reading
buckwheat grows fast and i can cut down then just plant ..i dont think i'll
im thinking in some of my big flower beds i struggle with wandering morning
glory (they call it mormon moring glory here ) :) i might plant buckwheat in them
as well.. cut down..and spade roots over..
anyone else try buckwheat as smothering plant in their flower beds?
seems same principle..and i dont put any of my tropicals in till 2nd week of june..
buckwheat flowers in about 6 weeks...?? is that right??
much thanks :)
My take on the white Clover which I have always called White Dutch Clover and I don't have a clue if that is the right name for it..I live very close to the local High School football field and it has many large patches of white clover and it is many shades darker green than the grass that grows there..and this tends to make a kind of ragged appearance to the field..I know that it is the bane of many golf courses because it will bloom even when mowed quite short making finding balls a bit difficult ...as far me I wish that I had a lawn of white clover here we have almost all Bermuda lawns and they don't get nice a lush until later, like well into june some years
I planted buckwheat Nov. 1, here and it bloomed within six weeks, but growth slowed down as the weather cooled so i will plant a month earlier next year. Really a nice plant, lots of top growth and tilled under easy.
From what i saw, it was not dense enough nor aggressive enough to smother out anything, unless the shade from it would do it.
Nancy I have only been to Madras once but seem like a very dry place it was a long time ago so maybe I have the wrong place in mind but if it was as dry as I recall that is likely why they don't breack down easily..Just Sayin