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  • cover crops

    We are putting in cover crops this fall. We have never done it before and had to research it a bit.. It puts much needed nitrogen back into the soil. And while in bloom they can attract bees and beneficial insects back into the gardens while in bloom. We are using field peas and oats for this. Urban Farmer has info for doing this as well as you can call them for any questions you may have.

  • #2
    Crop rotation is GOOD.
    ;-)

    When I saw thread title, I wondered if you meant plantings to disguise a 'kitchen garden' should SHTF...

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    • #3
      Nothing to do with SHTF. It is just to prepare for a richer soil after years of planting in the same place. We only have a small back yard garden and one on each side of house. We have been planting in these same spots for over 10 years. So time to put nutrients back into the soil..

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      • #4
        The peas might add a little Nitrogen but the Oats won't add any nutrients.
        They only store what is already there.

        They also add organic matter that improves the soil.

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        • #5
          According to Urban Farmer where I bought the mix both will put both nitrogen and nutrients into the soil. This is a mix blend.. Either way, It is what our garden needs at this point. And yes in early spring when we till it all under it will add a gread deal of organic matter..

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          • #6
            What would be the best eatable crop for a cover crop.
            One day you eat the chicken.....next day the left-over chicken.....next five days you eat chicken feathers, head and feet.

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            • #7
              AJ, a big adder to the health is to add a nice thick layer of compost. Some municipalities have it for free or cheap but proceed with caution and ask questions as often time they use all the yard waste pickups to make their compost and wood chips and there are just way to many green thumb lawns and roundup users throwing their toxic crap in there so there is a higher chance to get "bad" compost with herbicides in it. Now a horse farm that has a few year old pile of manure that's been sitting can be black gold. Also look into starting yourself a simple compost system and worm composter system too.

              A few other things, get some dry horticulture molasses, a little bit of mycorrhizal fungi to sprinkle about and in the spring when you plant your starts just a little dusting on the roots. Another thing is to take plain Jane corn meal and soak it in water for a day or so, and strain it and use that corn tea to spray your beds. Do all that and then top with 2-4" of nice compost and watch your gardens explode. the molasses and corn tes help feed the microbes and fungi and will draw the worms in to your beds. Also, and this will be the hadest thing, resist the urge to till and turn the ground. Leave it as is is and plant into it. Disturbing the soil destroys the fungi in theere and that is what helps convert the nutrients into what the plants can take up. Check out youtube, also check out a guy by the name of Howard Garret the dirt doctor.
              I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!

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              • #8
                Here is a nice list: https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/4185/

                I gleaned these edible cover crops from the longer list at the link...

                All of these are edible. Clover blossoms are edible, too. Also makes a great tea. A small amount of the leaves can be added to salads. Cowpea leaves can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable, in addition to enjoying delicious cowpeas.


                Hardy legumes increase soil nitrogen and organic matter. After a slow fall start, they grow rapidly in March and April and may not mature until May in some regions. Mow these cover crops in spring at or before flowering, then till them under.

                Field pea (Pisum arvense and P. sativus). Grows 6 inches to 5 feet high; hardy to 10 to 20° F. 'Austrian Winter' pea is low growing and late maturing. 'Magnus' grows to 5 feet. Sow 2 to 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

                (Field peas are edible... Austrian Winter peas: you can use the sprouts and shoots as greens, the young pods as snow peas, the green shelling stage is perfectly edible but a little more starchy than traditional green peas. The dry pea is a yellow soup pea -- you can ground them into pea flour and use small quantities in bread baking. Here's some more info about eating Austrian Winter pea greens here: https://www.growjourney.com/how-to-g.../#.W6mp-mhKgy8)

                Berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrinum). Grows 1 to 2 feet high; hardy to 20° F. Will regrow after cutting. Produces high amounts of nitrogen. Sow 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

                Crimson clover (T. incarnatum). Grows 18 inches high; hardy to 10° F. Matures late and fixes less nitrogen than other clovers. Attracts bees. Sow 1/2 to 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet. If allowed to go to seed, can become weedy.

                Dutch white clover (T. repens). Grows 6 to 8 inches high; hardy to -20° F. Perennial and shade tolerant so may become weedy. Sow 1/2 to 1 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

                Fava beans (V. faba). Grows 3 to 8 feet high; hardy to 15° F. Bell bean is a shorter (3-foot) relative. Sow 2 to 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet.


                The tropical legumes below grow quickly in fall to increase soil nitrogen and add abundant organic matter, but need warm growing conditions. Plant in late summer or early fall in the Southeast and Southwest before winter cover crops. These are best grown as summer annuals in the North.

                Sunn hemp (Crotolaria juncea). Grows 5 to 6 feet high; hardy to 28° F. Needs same growing conditions as corn. Cut or mow before stems become woody. Can also reduce nematodes. Sow 1 to 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

                ( This "hemp" looks a little like pot from a distance, which could attract unwanted attention from pot planes, drones, etc. But then, so did bamboo. The stooopid pot police helicopters used to buzz my property every year where I used to live, lol. Slow learners, or what? Anyway, the leaves & flowers are edible. More info here: https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?Lat...alaria+juncea; http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtr...talaria+juncea )

                Sesbania (S. macroca rpa). Grows 6 to 8 feet high; hardy to 32° F. Grows like sunn hemp, but more tolerant of flooding, drought, salinity, low fertility. Sow 1 pound per 1,000 square feet.

                (Sesbania is edible, although I would probably prefer to use it to make fishing lines and nets: https://books.google.com/books?id=yM...edible&f=false )

                Cowpea (Vigna sinensis). Grows 1 to 2 feet high; hardy to 32° F. Tolerates poor and acidic soils. Prefers humidity and tolerates drought. Sow 2 to 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

                Grasses grow quickly, tolerate cold, increase organic matter, and improve the structure of compacted soils. They also control erosion but don't increase nitrogen. Mow these annual grass cover crops in spring before seeds set, or till under.

                Oats (Avena sativa). Grows 2 to 3 feet tall: hardy to 10 to 20° F. Produces least organic matter of grasses, but tolerant of wet soils. Sow 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

                Barley (Hordeum vulgare). Grows 2 to 3 feet tall; hardy 0 to 10° F. Fast maturing and tolerant of dry and saline soils: intolerant of acidic soil. Sow 2 to 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet.


                Other annual cover crops such as buckwheat, mustard, and phacelia aren't ordinarily considered fall crops. They increase organic matter but not nitrogen.

                Buckwheat (***opyrum esculentum). Grows 1 to 3 feet tall: hardy to 32° F. Fast growing warm season crop. Grow in summer in North, Fall in South. Sow 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

                Brown or black mustard (Brassica species). Grows 1 to 3 feet high; hardy to 0° F. Strong taproot mines minerals, but can become a pest. Attracts bees. Sow 1 pound per 1,000 square feet.

                Oilseed radish (Raphanus sativus). Grows 2 to 3 feet tall: hardy to 20° F. Grows fast with a strong taproot. Kills nematodes when tilled into soil, but may harbor brassica-family diseases. Sow 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
                Last edited by GrizzlyetteAdams; 09-24-2018, 11:53 PM.
                Genius is making a way out of no way.

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                • #9
                  Here is a nice edible cover crop seed mix: https://www.groworganic.com/pvfs-win...op-mix-lb.html

                  Contains: mall seeded Fava Beans (Bell Beans), Biomaster Peas, Yellow Peas, and Sugar Snap Peas.
                  Genius is making a way out of no way.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sourdough View Post
                    What would be the best eatable crop for a cover crop.
                    That depends on your climate. Many places won't allow cover crops because they get too cold.
                    If you eat the "cover crop" you're taking away most of the the nutrients they are meant to save..

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                    • #11
                      You can go to motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening-techniques/cover-crops. It will tell you what they do for your garden. Also here is another list of cover crops, Winter rye, cereal rye which I have not heard of, buckwheat, clover, sorghum Sudangrass, and hairy Vetch which also I've not heard of.

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                      • #12
                        AJ, I use crimson clover, mustard or buckwheat for a winter cover crop in my raised beds. It helps to kill out the 10,000 tomato plants trying to start from lost fruit that has gotten covered by soil. Starting to clean out the beds now and will plant covers next month.

                        Dale
                        Judge no one, until you have walked in the same mud and spilt the same blood. Him, I call brother.

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                        • #13
                          Dale this is the first time we have used a cover crop. And you are so right about the tomatoes. They are the gift that keeps on given. We planted cherry tomatoes about 4 years ago and this is the first summer they didn't come back. We are trying the field peas and oats combo after talking with the guy on urban farms. He seemed very informative. he said it would also choke out the weeds as well as put the nitrogen back into the soil. We have just finished cleaning up the garden yesterday and pulled all the dead tomato vines up.. Hubby is going to till it up and then we also will be planting the cover crop next month as well. Maybe next year I will have to try the crimson clover or buckwheat.

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                          • #14
                            Hubby is going to till it up and then we also will be planting the cover crop next month as well.
                            Unless you're pretty far South it's already time to be planting any cover crops you want for this winter.
                            Many things won't germinate at less than 50 degrees and they need some growth before the first frosts.

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                            • #15
                              Snyper we are still in the lower 80,s here. Hubby is going to be tilling on Monday and then we are going to start planting. We are not far enough inland for the colder weather yet. Alot of people here are just now getting their gardens ready to plant collards. Still a bit early but can be planted now.

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