Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Starting Buckwheat for Green Manure / Cover Crop / Bee Forage. 7.21.15

Bed prep for buckwheat.  7.21.15
Today I took a little time to prep the former borage bed for Buckwheat.  I planted the borage late winter.  In this location, the borage plants grew to 5 foot tall, some 6 foot.  Might have been influenced buy the organic nitrogen, and might have been due to whatever was already in the soil.  The soil has been used, either as a dumping location for fireplace or grill ashes, or was a burn location.  Lots of biochar and ashes.  That may not be a good thing, for many reasons.  But the borage grew like gangbusters.

 The borage has dried out and was done blooming.  I wanted to collect seeds, but not up to it.  It pulled out  very easy, leaving an almost weed-free bed.  Quite a bit of water was needed to soften the soil, then worked it shallowly, smoothed with garden rake, spread buckwheat seeds, smoothed a little more, and watered.

Original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany.  Image via commons.wikipedia.org
From what I read, buckwheat is an excellent plant for conditioning the soil (green manure, cover crop).  It crowds out most weeds - which apparently borage also does - and is killed by the first frost.  Buckwheat grows in hot summer, and has a fast life cycle.  I don't know yet, but am hoping it will bloom in the fall.  Buckwheat is also considered excellent bee forage.  A comment on solarbeez blog states buckwheat started flowering 3 weeks after planting.  Mother Earth News states some bloom starts as little as one week from planting.  From Mother Earth News"Buckwheat is one of the best sources of high quality protein in the plant kingdom. It's easy to grow, harvest, and process; it prospers on soils too poor for other crops; and it's not susceptible to any major disease or pest problems. On top of all that, buckwheat is an excellent smother crop for weed control, a superb green manure crop, and a legendary nectar source for honeybees.".  From this extension website, Buckwheat is not tolerant of hot, dry conditions.  I'm thinking it will need the same watering as I am currently doing for squash and corn, until fall arrives.  Never having grown buckwheat, some experimentation is likely needed.  Also from the extension site:  "Buckwheat can be raised for grain if planted by mid-July in northern states or by early August in the South.  If we want to try, according to Mother Earth News, a gardener can get a usable amount of buckwheat for food in 40 square feet - a little more than my raised beds.  I guess, for us or for the chickens.

The seed package was very large - 5 pounds.  Plan: pull the weeds out of the 3 raised beds I lost to weeds, and plant buckwheat.  The area planted here is about the same as 1 1/2 raised bed.  Ditto for the garlic bed, once the garlic is harvested.  Ambition and energy, those are the limitations.

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