Organic Green Manure - Buckwheat

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by itlajfk, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. itlajfk

    itlajfk Member

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    My husband & I retired last year and are in the process of restoring a very old farmhouse on the South Shore of Nova Scotia (Zone 6a). Part of the retirement dream involves establishing an organic vegetable garden. We have recently dug up and screened the soil of about 3000 sq. ft. of what appears to have been the old vegetable garden/oxen grazing area. We bought this property in 2002, and are pretty sure that no pesticides/herbicides have been used on it over the past 10 years (actually, if ever). The soil is fairly acidic as we have wild blueberries and low bush cranberries growing prolifically in our bog.

    My veg garden is pretty big, so what I thought I would do is create 'wide/deep' rows, probably about 20 of them, and plant green manure in 1/2 of the beds and grow vegs in the other 1/2, rotating the halves each year. I am thinking that a mixture of buckwheat and red clover would work well for me, but I am having a terrible time trying to find organic sources for these seeds. I've combed the internet and am finding that the U.S. sources won't (can't?) ship to Canada, and while I did find one site in Canada for organic buckwheat seed, you had to buy something like 75 kg of the stuff. Far more than I need.

    If anyone has any information about where I can get organic red clover and/or buckwheat seeds in reasonably quantities, in Canada, I would greatly appreciate your help. OR, if you have any ideas about what cover crops might work better for me in my situation (and perhaps more readily available), I would love to hear them.

    Thanks to everyone that posts to this forum and so willingly shares their knowledge. This is my first post, but I have learned a lot from reading!
     
  2. Durgan

    Durgan Contributor 10 Years

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    I have used both buckheat and red annual clover for cover crop. Now I prefer just the clover, since the buckwheat was a bit too hard to work into the soil, and it didn't winter kill so well as the clover. I like your idea of a space free one year and planted the next.

    As to the organic seed, I have no thoughts on it, but does it really matter about these particular seeds being organic? I know from experience that the clover seed keeps for at least four years in a dry environment.
     
  3. englak

    englak Active Member 10 Years

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  4. itlajfk

    itlajfk Member

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    Hi Durgan - thanks for the reply. If the buckwheat doesn't winter kill so well in your zone, I will probably have a problem in zone 6A. I'm counting on the winter kill! Re the use of organic seed (and I should have made this more clear in my original post), my goal is to get as close to growing 100% organically as I can. I could be wrong, but I'm assuming that using inorganically grown cover would kind of set me back on the organic front. Am I being silly here?

    Hi englak - I checked out this site, and it's fabulous. Just what I was looking for - many thanks!
     
  5. itlajfk

    itlajfk Member

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    It's me again.... I just had a somewhat heated discussion with my husband about the organic/inorganic green manure seed issue, and I'm starting to think that I am probably an idiot. If I don't use pesticides/herbicides etc., and grow my green manure crop organically, does it really matter if the original seeds were organically grown or not?

    thanks for your patience,
     
  6. CapeBretonGardener

    CapeBretonGardener Member

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    Hi I am in Cape Breton and Buckwheat does not winter kill here so it should not there
     
  7. Durgan

    Durgan Contributor 10 Years

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    This is my cover crop in 2007.

    http://ejahw.notlong.com 17 April 2008 Preparing vegetable bed.

    The 2007 cover crop of double-cut red annual clover was effectively winter killed. This procedure is to fix nitrogen in the soil. The bed is now ready for vegetable planting, when the weather warms.
     
  8. itlajfk

    itlajfk Member

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    Thanks Cape Breton for the info. I think I'll pass on the buckwheat.

    Durgan, what do you mean when you say 'double-cut'?

    Thanks!
     
  9. Durgan

    Durgan Contributor 10 Years

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    When purchasing the seed, one is asked double cut or single. I was quite happy with just clover, but chose double cut having no idea what it meant. Here is what it means.
    The two types of red clover are double-cut or "medium" red clover, and single cut or "mammoth" red clover. Double-cut will flower in the seeding year, with vigorous regrowth after cutting and higher yields. Single-cut is slower growing and matures about two weeks later than double-cut. Single-cut does not flower in the seeding year, or after the first cut in succeeding years. Single-cut types are used as cover crops and plowdown.

    Taake your pick.
     
  10. biggam

    biggam Active Member

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    It probably is being too picky about using organic seed if it is problematic obtaining it. So long as the seed you buy is not coated with fungicide, then be content that everything you are putting into the soil is legitimate with organic practices.
     
  11. itlajfk

    itlajfk Member

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    Hi Durgan,

    When do you plant your clover? How long does it take to get growing? Do you cut it down before it goes to flower?

    Thanks!
     
  12. Durgan

    Durgan Contributor 10 Years

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    Due to the vegetable garden being cleared of produce at different times, the clover is spread as space become available. I smooth an area and plant anytime from about the 20 of August onwards, until the end of September. After September the growth is not significient, again depending upon the weather. The plant growth will be uneven, but this is of no concern. The idea is to get as much growth as possible before freeze-up.

    In the early spring if the clover is still green, I weed-wack the stand, and rototill into the soil. More often than not the clover is flat on the ground and the tops are dead, depending upon the severity of the Winter. I have had occasions, when the clover is quite healthy, and vigorously growing come Spring. Clover vegetation deteriorates quickly when cut-a matter of two or three days.
     
  13. Acoma

    Acoma Active Member

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    Durgan, I believed on one of your threads you briefly mentioned worms. If you have worms, aren't you concerned about rototilling that soil? doesn't that create high kill level, and drive the worms, that do survive, away? Curios because I have worms in my garden and I like the idea of clover as well, but I do not wish to have worm kill. Reno, NV gets its below freezing days for a couple months of winter too.
     
  14. Durgan

    Durgan Contributor 10 Years

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    The worms probably survive. Actually I have an amazing number of worm compared to almost none when coming here five years ago. The worms tend to exist under mulch duing the summer, and go quite deep during the winter. The clover probably supplies some food for them, but this is a guess, since I know little about their eating habits.The few killed by cultivation are nothing compared to what a family of robins eat during the summer.
     
  15. Acoma

    Acoma Active Member

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    Durgan, the worm population doubles every 3 months spring through fall and have die out every winter. Of course they don't live forever. You figure year 1 with 100 becomes 800 with 1/3 dying each year gives net growth of 500+ for year 2. Then by end of year two 500 becomes 4000 netting 2800 the start of year 3. Etc...... Yes, you can see the great contributions. They actually thrive on moist soil with nitrogen to fead on. That clover is perfect for their winter needs. I see why you need little for the garden. You definately think the steps through.
     
  16. itlajfk

    itlajfk Member

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    Durgan,

    Thanks for all your helpful comments - left to my own devices, I would probably have planted the clover too soon, and lived to regret it!
     

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