Cover Crops Aka Green Manure II

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As roots travel downwards, they carry water & nutrients to the soil below. As the plant dies, the roots (beneficial) rot breaks down, leaving a network of aggregated water and airways in its wake.

Hello everyone! I hope you guys have had a restful weekend.
I’ve skimmed over this topic once before and as promised, here is a more in depth look.
This summer, we planted buckwheat seeds in our pallet container garden.
No, our family is not going gluten free.
Nor will be eating them.
Then why would we “waste” space in our precious container garden for this plant?

Anybody can throw soil into a pot and grow a plant (almost).
But our focus is on building the soil.
Our goal is to increase aeration in the soil while improving water/nutrient-retention and microbiology activity in our soils right?
In this sense, cover crops like buckwheat are invaluable as it tends to the soil that it is given.
Buckwheat is known to have long tap roots that mine down deep, breaking down the soil as the microbes below take care of the rhizosphere.
However, a quick youtube search on buckwheat cover cropping show people lifting out the entire plant as they lay it back onto the garden bed.
This to me does not make sense!
Yes, I understand that the uplifted soil makes it easier for the seeds to take hold and germinate.
Yes, I do understand that the laying of the plant back onto the growing seedlings will prevent weeds from taking over.
HOWEVER,
Removing the plant from the roots completely negates the benefits that we are looking for!
Rather, when the time comes to kill off this summer crop, I will use a scythe mow the plants from the stems.
I will leave the root balls in the soil to die off and break down in the soil.
Winter cover crop seeds will have already been sown at this point so the mowed buckwheat grass will be used to either harvest the seeds or mulch the winter cover crops.
Buckwheat grows quickly and can grow from seed to mulch in about 5 weeks or so so be sure to sow frequently for increased biomass in your gardens!

Buckwheat is also a great beneficial insect attractant.
Predatory (but beneficial) wasps are said to be so attracted to a patch of buckwheat plants that those who are afraid of insects should consider not planting buckwheat.
Amy is really starting to appreciate wasps in our garden now 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Cover Crops Aka Green Manure II

  1. This will be my first winter using a cover crap. I just purchased some winter rye and I’m excited to see how it goes.

  2. How cool! I do hope that you share its progress with us!
    I am currently reading a book called homegrown humus by Anna Hess.
    The book is all about no till cover cropping. The chapter I am reading now is going over rye so I wanted to share this with you:
    Rye is high in carbon so when you decide to stubble the cover crop, be sure to wait three weeks after mow killing. They also have allelopathic qualities that prevent small seed vegetables from sprouting so be sure to give the garden bed a bit of rest before planting!
    Hope to hear from you again John 😉

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