Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cover Cropping

buckwheat seed

I spent the Thursday before we left for Dallas digging Bermuda grass out of the beds that will be lying fallow this year. Those beds are a mixture of hardpan clay near the edges and almost pure sand in the center. The Bermuda has steadily crept back into the clay and is not so slowly making its way toward the sand. The garden is made up of 4 4x32' mounded beds. We dug it last year, added compost and attempted to grow our summer crops (other than tomatoes) in the beds, but the soil still leaves a lot to be desired. We're going to spend the summer, and possibly the fall, working to improve it by adding compost, mulching heavily and growing several rounds of cover crops.

I spent 4 hours digging and finished one of the beds with the exception of the outer paths. I think we're going to try to sheet mulch the paths with cardboard and more wood chips because the clay is almost impossible to get a shovel through at the moment. After, I finished the bed, I forked it over gently and broadcast buckwheat seed to help break up the clay and give us some good organic matter to amend the sand. We used buckwheat in the other garden beds last year and it really did seem to improve the clay soil through just one planting. Hopefully, it can do the same for these more challenging beds.


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