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Late fall cover crops

Oat flowersJust a week after noticing that the six week old buckwheat was going to seed, I saw these beautiful oat flowers popping out of my two month old oats.  Since I'm growing the oats as a cover crop right now, I went ahead and mowed them down with the hedge trimmer.  Incidentally, the hedge trimmer got slightly bogged down in the thickest parts of the oat beds, so I wouldn't want to use it on anything tougher than ripening oat stalks.

Meanwhile, I'm continuing to go a little overboard testing out every possible autumn cover crop.  Two weeks ago, I planted several beds with crimson clover, the only fall-planted legume cover crop that is supposed to be at least semi-reliably winter-killed in our region.  Early October is late to be planting crimson clover, but the seeds are already up and I have high hopes we'll get enough growth to give me an idea of the quality of the variety before our first hard freeze.

I've got a lot more beds opened up now that the summer garden is officially dead, so I'm going to try out one last cover crop this year --- barley.  If you're curious about the pros and cons of different cover crops in your region, I highly recommend that you download Managing Cover Crops Profitably.  This 4.5 MB, 248 page pdf file gives a lot of regional pointers that will help you figure out which cover crops are worth a shot and which ones should be avoided at all costs.  The results you'll get from a cover crop are highly dependent on your climate and soil, so it's worth doing a bit of research rather than just planting the cover crops that have done well on someone else's farm.

Don't want to take the time to experiment?  Our homemade chicken waterer kit can be put together in less than an hour.


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Hi, the "managing cover crops download" link is not working. would you please let me know when it starts working again? thank you. my email is lovebeyondbelief@gmail.com. suzanne
Comment by suzanne Sat Oct 23 23:45:37 2010
Sorry about that! I'm pretty sure the link is better now, if anyone else wants to try it.
Comment by anna Sun Oct 24 08:45:14 2010

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime