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sheeshshe
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help me pick a cover crop?

or two?

I just learned about cover crops last week on here and I am finding it VERY fascinating! I want to jump in full force but I can't decide what to choose as my first one or two. I have a weed problem and I thought that something like the hairy vetch would be good for that? and it would supply nutrients too. Then I thought winter wheat sounded cool. but where I am at it won't harvest till july/aug and I can't postpone my summer garden that long ya know? so I'm not sure what would be good for me here in southern Maine.

Things that I'd like: weed control, nutrients for the soil, ability to use the remains as mulch/hay for my summer crops, and potentially getting a harvest of some sort from it.

in your opinion, which cover crops do you think would suit my garden needs and the area I live in?

DoubleDogFarm
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Peaceful Valley is my choice for cover crop seed.

https://www.groworganic.com/cgy_23.html

Lots to choose from. Winter rye is pretty common. I like the Soil Builder or biomaster. Here we usually grow over the winter and chop it in in the spring.

Eric

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applestar
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For easy, I like oats because they winterkill. I don't have to do anything. If I remember correctly you need to give it 6 weeks to grow before frost kill.

I'm picking cover crops based on what I'm planning to grow in the same location in spring and summer.

Only one I've worked out for sure so far is my [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=156380#156380]Sunflower& House[/url].

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sheeshshe
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things like corn and squash that are probably done growing before frost well those can get planted 6 weeks before frost, but gosh... I'd have to plant it now I think and those aren't done yet. sooooooooooo, how does one decide whether to pull up tomato plants that are growing tomatoes still and cover crops? etc any vegetable that is still growing?

lyallpeder
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sheeshshe wrote:things like corn and squash that are probably done growing before frost well those can get planted 6 weeks before frost, but gosh... I'd have to plant it now I think and those aren't done yet. sooooooooooo, how does one decide whether to pull up tomato plants that are growing tomatoes still and cover crops? etc any vegetable that is still growing?

i just started the cover crop thing this year too. in a unused spot in my garden i planted buckwheat on july 15 now 3 weeks later its 10 inch tall. we will see how tall it is when we run a risk of frost by sept 15. next year i am going to plant bits of cover crop where ever i have room in the spring and till it in where i need it in the fall

DoubleDogFarm
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I have a friend, yes I really do. :roll: She likes to use clover in her paths and bed borders. I believe it is Dutch white clover. She uses a hook knife (sickle) to harvest handsful and places it around the plants. Clover will slowly creep into the beds, so some maintenance is involved.

Eric

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applestar
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sheeshshe, I told you I had to draw a picture :wink: I don't know how much of my ideas apply to your garden, but I posted the work-in-progress [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=156543#156543]here[/url].

garden5
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Here is an article on the [url=https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBgQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.motherearthnews.com%2FOrganic-Gardening%2F2002-10-01%2FThe-Easiest-Cover-Crops.aspx&ei=sKVeTJzSAoSBlAf70KSZCA&usg=AFQjCNEBWYnyucUHUomJxO8zFlzeC-PtNw]Easiest Cover Crops[/url]. Enjoy :).
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TZ -OH6
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If you live anywhere close to farmland there will be some sort of farmers coop/feedstore that will sell seed for popular local cover crops in at very low prices. I got winter rye for $0.70/lb.

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applestar
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Eric, being a subdivision, anywhere that's not converted into beds on my property is basically lawn. The Back Yard inside the fence in my domain and I've allowed white clover and ground ivy/creeping Charley [Glechoma hederacea] (yeah not native and invasive :roll:) to take over the lawn around my beds.

In the cooler wet months, it's ground ivy lawn and in the hot dry months, it's clover lawn. I cut them with my Japanese hand sickle or just snatch handfuls and use them as mulch.

Ground ivy is actually easier to work with because they pull out relatively easily compared to clover, which has much deeper and tenaceous runners. Because I let them grow taller, and the ground ivy just creeps around even when they get long), they stay around 6" tall and don't need to be mowed unless I need extra mulch or GREENS for the compost, and I don't have the crabgrass issues that DH is dealing with in the front yard (but he insists on mowing the grass short -- will he ever listen? :roll: :lol:)

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gixxerific
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Off topic but.... mowing short. :shock: :o The only time I may mow short is at the end of the season and I want some more mulch/compost.

You must tell him the grass needs the longs blades for shade. Beat it into him he will eventually listen or just give in. :lol:

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sheeshshe
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hmmm. I wonder how I would find out where there is a seed co-op for local farmers?

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sheeshshe
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so I want oats maybe? oats or barley? but they're not going to produce oats and barley correct?

TZ -OH6
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Yellow pages under farm supplies

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applestar
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Right. Oats and barley won't survive the winter here, so they definitely won't survive where you are. If you WANT oats or barley you'd have to plant them in early spring.

Surviving, productive crops would be winter rye (-40ºF), winter wheat (-25ºF), and possibly triticale (-10ºF) I'm going to try triticale in a protected area. I also have spelt seeds but I can't find minimum temperature for it. Ohio is supposed to be where most of the spelt is being grown, so I think there's a good chance it will overwinter here.

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farmerlon
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lyallpeder wrote:...i just started the cover crop thing this year too. in a unused spot in my garden i planted buckwheat on july 15 now 3 weeks later its 10 inch tall. ...
I think Buckwheat is a great cover crop, and a good one to "try out" for first-time cover crop growers.
It's easy to grow and is terrific at weed suppression. Buckwheat also adds a lot of organic matter to the soil when you "turn it under".

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sheeshshe
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So do you think oats and barley are the best choice? i mean those will be able to be used as straw etc mulch for the summer. but are they just as good as say, clovers etc as nutrients to the soil? I have to find that list that AS gave me.. not with this baby whacking my laptop though@!

garden5
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I've read that with some cover crops (can't remember which ones), you will want to wait about 2 or 3 weeks after turning it under before you plant because when you turn it in, it releases compounds that inhibit seed germination.

Anyone else ever hear of this?
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TZ -OH6
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Freshly turned under cover crops tie up nitrogen for a couple of weeks while the initial fast decomposition of the cellular materials takes place.

Some of them produce seed sprouting inhibitors, which don't matter if you are transplanting.

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farmerlon
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Some folks like Crimson Clover for a cover crop, because it's a" nitrogen fixer" (and for other reasons too).
But, be aware that clovers have relatively "agressive" roots... so you will need a plow or somewhat robust tiller to effectively turn it under. Clover can become a "weed" if you're not able to heavily plow/till it.

Buckwheat is not a nitrogen-fixing legume, but it has "airy" roots that allow the gardener to be able to easily pull the plants or turn them "by hand" with a shovel or fork. That can be a big advantage for gardeners with limited equipment.

garden5
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Interestingly enough, it's been found that if you cut the crop at ground-level or just pull it, leaving the majority of the root-system to decay, the roots of newly planted plants will actually grow into the spaces left by the decayed roots; sort of like a hand in a glove.

Of course, this only happens if you don't till after removing the cover crop.
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