RicelandMeadows


Valuable Cover Crops
October 4, 2018, 2:45 pm
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , ,

buckwheatcover

October 4, 2018

In the photo above, buckwheat blossoms in our raised bed. The garden crops finished up last month, just after Labor Day. I pulled up all the plants, except for the Swiss chard in the foreground. The buckwheat germinated quickly and grew faster than I thought possible. These early autumn blooms providing a food source for many pollinators.

I plant cover crops often. Their value is amazing. In the case of buckwheat it draws honeybees and the like to the garden, helping to increase fruit set in many plants. I grow cover crops mostly for their weed suppression qualities. It must be noted, that cover crops also “mine” the soil of nutrients. The cover crops give those nutrients up, when they are incorporated back into the soil. The following crop gets the benefit of plant ready “food” right in their root-zone.

I could have left the raised bed garden fallow, void of any plants. Weeds would have soon taken over the bed. I have enjoyed a month of weed free gardening as the buckwheat grew. Now, I will enjoy these blossoms for a few more days. Soon, I will cut the buckwheat off and leave it to wilt and dry up some. Then I will incorporate the dead plants while preparing a seedbed for a winter cover crop of rye. The rye will suppress weeds for the few remaining weeks of the growing season. The rye then protects the soil from wind erosion over winter, while mining more nutrients from the soil below.

In spring, the cycle will start over at the time of planting next year’s garden. These are but two cover crops that we use, but their value is awesome. They save me work and provide beauty to be seen. The blossoming buckwheat against the blue sky, highlighted by the autumn foliage, is as pretty as, the green blanket of rye on a cold winter day.


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