The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

50 pounds of rye

Rye cover crop

Sprouting rye50 pounds of rye seed in the ground!  (Actually, I gave Kayla about four pounds, so I guess I can only take credit for 46.)

Where did I fit all that rye?  Since my oats went in early this year, most started to bloom in late September, so I scattered rye seed amid the oats and had Mark weed-eat the latter down.  (You can see the result, several weeks later, in the photo at the top of this post.)  Meanwhile, I planted rye in the beds where crops like tomatoes and squash died after our first frost, and in empty soil left after digging the fall carrots.

Digging swalesOf course, I still had rye seeds left after all that, so I started moving dirt around.  I posted here about my gully terraforming experiment, and you'll need to visit my chicken blog this week if you want to read about the swales Kayla and I dug in the newest pasture to create tree alleys (and about the cute box turtle we found in the process).  All of that digging created bare soil, so I topped it off with rye and finally hit the bottom of the bag!

Of all our cover crops, I feel like rye handles wet soil the best and produces the most biomass, so planting a full bag of rye feels a bit like investing in an internet startup company --- a little bit of effort for (hopefully) a lot of return.  I'll report in the spring about whether the rye I planted latest (November 1) covered the ground adequately, and about whether I have any problem mow-killing it before our summer crops go in.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I'll be very interested in the results of your green manures and how that compares to the areas that you "put to bed." I have yet to venture into cover cropping. I do layers of materials such as grass and leaves topped of with chicken manure along with some wood ash. In early spring it all gets dug into the upper few inches of ground... one method suggested from Carla Emery's book.
Comment by Karen R Mon Nov 4 22:16:19 2013

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