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Oat cover crop

Young oat plantsYes, the pictures don't lie --- I've been planting grass in our garden.  Perhaps an eighth of our garden beds are currently fallow, partly because I didn't water carefully enough and had a hard time getting my fall crops to germinate.  As August winds to a close, it's too late to replant the turnips, cabbage, beets, and carrots that had spotty (or no) germination.  Instead, I can double up on greens and lettuce, plan ahead for the fall garlic, and then fill all of the remaining beds with cover crops to improve the soil.

As you'll recall, buckwheat has been relegated to my list of cover crops that can't handle heavy clay and high groundwater --- the precise type of trouble spot I want to remedy with cover crop planting.  The next cover crop on my experimental list is oats, and already this grain seems to be growing much more hardily than buckwheat.  Hopefully, the oats will be winter-killed in a couple of months and will leave the beds happily mulched with straw of their own making.

I had some hull-less oat seeds leftover, but not nearly enough to sow all of the beds I was hoping to turn fallow for the rest of the summer.  After looking at shipping rates on the internet, I realized that cover crop seeds are best bought locally.  Our feed store had a 50 pound bag for about twelve bucks, allowing me to plant as heavily as I pleased with plenty of the moderately high protein grain left to feed to the chickens.

Our chickens love whole grains, but they love clean water even more.  Mark invented a homemade chicken waterer that keeps our water poop-free at all times.


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