Best Fall or Green Manure Crop

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by oz in SC, Aug 22, 2004.

  1. oz in SC

    oz in SC Well-Known Member

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    mrs oz here :)

    We're in Zone 8 and today we cleared out our tomato and squash raised beds. We still have peppers and eggplants coming. What we're wondering is, what is the best thing to plant for the fall. It's still blazing hot here, so it seems like a strange question I guess. We don't know whether to plant something for actual consumption or just something that would be good for the soil to help get it prepared for next spring. What do you all think?? Thanks in advance for the help.
     
  2. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Many of the brassicas should do well. My grandpa used to plant collards every fall in mid Mississippi. There is a wide range of chinese vegies available now tho. You might also consider fava beans. They will winter kill if the temp drops below about 20*f. Otherwise you will have a veg source thru the winter and some good green manure to till in next spring.
     

  3. Jimmy Mack

    Jimmy Mack Well-Known Member

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    Buckwheat makes an excellent fast cover crop in warm weather. 30 days from seed and you'll have a good amount of plant material to dig under for humus. Or, let it bloom for a beautiful show of flowers. Bees love buckwheat. I've seen praying mantis in buckwheat patches here in Denver, an excellent indicator of garden health.

    My standard winter cover crop is Winter Rye with Austrian Winter Peas. The Rye has a chemical that supresses weed germination. Nice to hold the weeds down, but when you dig under in the spring you'll want to allow 2-3 weeks for the rye to break down before planting.

    good luck!
     
  4. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    why not a clover to increase nitrogen for next spring?
     
  5. gardengirl1021

    gardengirl1021 Member

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    JM, do you know if winter rye is ok for zone 4/5? I'm looking for good winter cover also, and the weed-killing aspect of the rye sounds appealing, but I'm a bit north of zone 8!
     
  6. Jimmy Mack

    Jimmy Mack Well-Known Member

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    gardengirl1021, you bet. Both Winter Rye and Austrian Winter Peas are very hardy and will survive freezing and below freezing winter temps. I think Denver is around zone 4/5.

    Its fun to have some green in the wintertime. I community garden and get a kick out of people checking out the green patches and wondering, "how in the heck is your grass green in the wintertime?". :D lol

    If you let it go too long in the spring it really gets thick and can be some work to dig under, but worth the effort IMO.

    happy cultivating, Jimmy :)
     
  7. the main problem with rye is from about lower 5 south it won't kill and becomes an invasive weed on you. as long as you are confident you can till a few times to eradicate you could try. we avoid rye in 6 for that reason as well as this is wheat country and wheat people have a disdain for rye as it becomes a weed in wheat and with such similar plant type and cycle perpetuates in stored seed. rye should have no trouble making winter down in 7 or 8. clover and buck wheat are suposed to be real fertility boosters as well as deep root soil busters, i have not tried buckwheat but seen warnings not to allow seeding or it becomes invasive.
     
  8. Jimmy Mack

    Jimmy Mack Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the info Unregistered. good factors to consider

    At least in zone 4/5 the Winter Rye does not have time to go to seed. Possibly it could be topped in warmer climates to prevent it from going to seed. The application I'm suggesting is for vegetable and herb gardens not crop fields. I've never had a problem with cover crops coming back after they've been dug under.

    The Buckwheat does reseed easily. Last year I planted an abandoned garden plot with Buckwheat and let it go to seed. Sure made a pretty show. This year's volunteer buckwheat did not spread beyond the one plot because the Buckwheat seed is heavy and does not transport easily.

    Of course, for the greatest benefit, cover crops should not be allowed to go to seed at all prior to being dug under.

    I know people on this site are sensitive to invasive plants and rightly so. Although, IMO, the root cause of the invasiveness is neglected land and not the actual plant material. Again, just my opinion.
     
  9. oz in SC

    oz in SC Well-Known Member

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    mrs oz here :)

    Thank you all for the advice. I think clover does sound good if it provides nitrogen for the soil. Do you order it from seed catalogs like anything else. I'll have to go find my Johnny's catalog. Thanks again everyone.
     
  10. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    I'd call the local feed mill/garden center. Somewhere where you can buy grass seed in bulk. They'll have clover seed and should know a little about it. Johnny's will be pricey for something like that...
     
  11. gardengirl1021

    gardengirl1021 Member

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    Thanks, Jimmy. . . one more question--if I'm already about 1/8 gone to weeds, do you think I can, in a couple of weeks, broadcast the rye or peas right along with the weeds (primarily grass and vetch) or would you til the weeds under, then seed with the winter cover? And just cus I'm nosy, is your community garden in an urban area? There's not much better than seeing abandoned lots becoming sources of food--and pride--for the folks who live in the neighborhood. . . we have some nice things going on in Providence. . .
     
  12. Jimmy Mack

    Jimmy Mack Well-Known Member

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    howdy gardengirl1021, lots of ways to garden successfully. My preferance would be to start with a clean slate and remove all the weeds. It would be good to leave some of the vetch, but selective weeding like that can be too labor intensive compared to digging up the weeds and starting fresh.

    Yes, the gardens are in an urban area ~ literally thousands of people drive by my corn on a daily basis :) Homo Sapius Pesticus can be a problem. In fact, someone helped themselves to half of my Cleome blooms the other day. Oh well, wudya gonna do, let's hope they at least made a nice arrangement with their hot flowers :)

    All and all we've had excellent participation this year with 40 plots total. The owners of the land, and were talking very pricey real estate, use it as a tax rightoff and don't have to do any maintenace to the property at all. The garden really is beautiful addition to the neighborhood.

    good luck with that! Jimmy

    BTW, here's a good link from Bountiful Gardens if you haven't already seen it:

    http://www.bountifulgardens.org/growbiointensive.html
     
  13. gardengirl1021

    gardengirl1021 Member

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    JM, thanks for the suggestions (think I'm going to go with the Rye, might or might not weed first!), and the link. . . now I'll have to add biointensive to my list of gardening techniques to learn about, and cobble together something that works for me. . . and nice to hear about a tangible advantage to plain folk as a result of corporate tax breaks!