Aug 28, 2009

Cover Crop Plant Info from Commodity Traders

Use cover crops when the garden will be left fallow for a season or after a growing season to rebuild soil fertility and hold the soil during winter winds, snow melt and spring rains. Gardening is not done when the last vegetable is picked. Then its time to start next years garden.

Medium Red Clover is the most widely grown of the true clovers. It is a short-lived perennial legume. Medium Red Clover is used for short rotation hay fields and include into pasture mixes with orchard grass & timothy or tall fescue. It is a perennial which acts as a biennial under usual farm conditions. Red Clover normally produces two cuttings during the hay year. Red Clover grows on soils with pH values below those necessary for satisfactory production of alfalfa and sweet clover. It best turned under during its second or third year when nitrogen and biomass production are at their maximum. For best results, sow in spring with an oat nurse crop. Can also be summer sown, or sown mid-winter for frost seeding.

Number of Seasons: Biennial
Planting Depth: .5-1"
Plant: Mid-Winter through Summer
Cold Tolerance: Winter Hardy
Seeding Rate: 8-10lb./acre or .25-5 lb. per 1000 sq. ft.
Soil Type: Tolerates All
Mix With: Oats/Buckwheat

Hairy Vetch is an extremely cold-tolerant, adaptable and vigorous winter annual legume. Plant in late summer to early fall. Slow to establish, but very prolific spring growth once soil warms up. Dense, viney growth habit, 2-3 feet high. It can attain greater height when supported by rye/oats/triticale. Contributes 80-250 lb/acre nitrogen and 3000-5000 lb/acre dry matter. The second-year growth of hairy vetch can be utilized as livestock feed. It is palatable as pasture, or can be harvested as hay or silage.

Number of Seasons: Annual
Planting Depth: .5-1"
Plant: late summer/early fall
Cold Tolerance: Winter Hardy
Seeding Rate: 25-35lb./acre or 1/2-1 lb. per 1000 sq.ft.
Soil Type: Tolerate All
Mix With: Winter Rye

Kentucky 31 (KY-31) Tall Fescue is a cool season, aggressive, perennial bunchgrass that grows to a height of three to four feet. It has gained importance because of its ability to adapt to a wide variety of types of soils, including poorly drained areas. KY-31 has short creeping rootstocks that develop into a uniform, thick sod. It is robust, rather coarse, and long-lived. KY-31 has dark green leaves with a spreading seed head. It produces more on sandstone-shale based soils than other cool season grasses. Tall Fescue is one of the more drought resistant plants of the cool season group, and will maintain itself under rather limited fertility. KY-31 requires a moist, weed-free, firm seedbed. Fescue grown along with legumes can minimize the problems sometimes associated with pure fescue stands. To get the best results from fescue, it should be clipped after seed harvest is complete. Fescue will withstand closer grazing and more abuse than most cool-season grasses, but it can be overgrazed to the point that vigor and production of the next season is reduced. Use of rotation grazing has proven successful, by allowing the plants a period of regrowth after heavy grazing.

Number of Seasons: Perennial

Planting Depth: .5"
Plant: Spring or Fall
Cold Tolerance: Winter Hardy
Seeding Rate: 7 - 9 lb. per 1000 sq.ft.
Soil Type: Tolerate All

Buckwheat is a rapid growing, broadleaf, summer annual, and is a great smother crop for weeds. It flowers in 5-6 weeks and grows 3-6 ft tall. Good for building organic matter and increasing calcium and phosphorous availability. Plant spring through summer. Does well in poor soils. Matures in 10-12 weeks.

Number of Seasons: Annual
Planting Depth: .5-1"
Plant: Late Spring to Two Months Before Frost
Cold Tolerance: Killed by Frost
Seeding Rate: 50-100 lb./acre or 1.2-2.5 lb per 1000 sq. ft.
Incorporate: Before Frost
Soil Type: Tolerates All

Winter Rye is the most cold-hardy and productive annual grass and it tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. Plant any time from early to late fall. Germinates and grows quickly to a height of 4-5 feet. Its fibrous roots markedly improve soil structure. Commonly grown with peas or vetch to provide structural support.

Number of Seasons: Annual
Planting Depth: .5-1"
Plant: Fall
Cold Tolerance: winter hardy
Seeding Rate:80-115lb./acre or 2-3.5lb.per 1000sq.ft.
Soil Type: Tolerates All
Mix With: Hairy Vetch


Maria said...

so enjoying your blog, I'm new to permaculture and I'm fascinated with learning more and more. I live in zone 8 coastal NC sandy soil and have been needing to freshen and revitalize my pastures. I do rotate as it's hard to keep any vegetation in sandy soil under that kind of traffic. My question is are all these items edible & safe for the horses to eat, we winter rye now and have a mix of summer grasses, some we planted some "volunteer grass"

Forest Garden Design and Consulting said...

this is a link to a good pdf about pasturing horses.

These other grasses are for building soil more than grazing although some do both.

I took out Kentucky 31 (KY-31) Tall Fescue from the list, you might want to look into that also. Its a drought tolerant grass for grazing in rotation. Horses are smarter than cattle. I think they make better forage choices, but I am not a horse expert. You might consider a hedgerow for grazing, Lime, Ash and Willow are favorites and less maintained. Try and get a copy of "A Farm for the Future, BBC". It tells alot about building grass pasture. Dan

Bill at Midwest Permaculture said...

Hi Dan,
I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your article in Permaculture UK magazine. Love the pictures of the swales and ponds. Very inspiring work for our Midwest region.
Hope to come by sometime when I get up that way if that is O.K.
Best from Illinois....Bill Wilson

Forest Garden Design and Consulting said...

Hi Bill,

Stop by anytime.
Glad you liked the article.
I hope to get involved with Midwest Permaculture someday. I was actually thinking of sending you a proposal for running my landscape design series with one of the PDCs. It was very successful here and was a good capstone for Permaculture designers after their PDC.

Thanks for the good review.


Carrick said...

Anyone have directions to some info about 'permaculture' grazing practices, ala Arthur Hollins of Fordham Farm? Wondering about grass strain selections for a NE USA farm.

I'm curious for a friend & successful nyc restaurant owner who is thinking about turning a 15 acre Vermont farm into a grass-fed beef farm.

Permaculture and Polyculture Consulting and Design

Permaculture and Polyculture Consulting and Design
Getting to know your property, the plants you have and those you can grow, is a fulfilling endeavor. With most I am the steward of the land. I give them good soil biology and they do the rest. If I group them in cohesive plant communities, they respond with greater yields. If I encourage the micro-organisms (Fungus and bacteria) , the roots obsorb more nutrients making a pest and disease resistant plant. A stronger plant that gives us more organic food and takes less energy.

A Ten Acre Farm Transformed to an Edible Forest Garden

A Ten Acre Farm Transformed to an Edible Forest Garden
Self Renewing Fertility, Soil Building, Water Catchment, Tea Trail Swale, Erosion Control and Native American Medicinals