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Old 08-19-2012, 07:50 PM   #1
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Default No-Till: Using Multi-Species Cover Crops to Improve Soil Health

I found this to be interesting. We all know tilling the soil degrades the soil, and that using a cover crop can help reduce weeds. Here farmers are not only using no till methods but are seeding 8 to 20 species seed mixes of cover crops all at once in the same field. Often comprised of other food crops such as Radish, Turnip, Oat, Soybean, etc... that are later rolled under as a mulch for something like corn or sunflowers.

So next year I think I'll try mass seeding one of the garden beds with Parsley, Carrots, Basil, Lettuce, Peas, Onions, Radish, Corn and Sunflowers all at once with maybe a few cucumbers growing up a lattice to the side. The idea here is if you have room for weeds to grow, then you have room to grow more food.
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Old 09-02-2012, 12:41 PM   #2
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I tried this in 1 bed using soybeans and turnips. No problem with the turnips but I did get a few straggler soybeans coming up. It worked for me. I was actually pleased with the results and grew corn where I'd planted the soybeans and turnip greens. The variety of turnip I used was more for the leaves though not the root so that mighta made a difference.
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I'd like to explore other cover crops. I know I've had good success using native prairie clovers before but that was in areas where I was starting native plants. I never had to worry about those re-seeding anywhere. Basil I might be worried about so I'd like to know how it goes for you.
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Old 09-02-2012, 02:44 PM   #3
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Very cool idea.

No time to watch it now, but I like the ideas I'm hearing.

Just today, I was mowing grass around the garden thinking that I'd like to create an area that can be mowed and used as a mulch to help build my soil from year to year...and much the ground over winter. (Not the same thing, but my mind is open to improving my no till garden project.)
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Old 11-05-2013, 06:30 AM   #4
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I've been experimenting a little bit with cover crops. This year I picked up some samples of something called 'Tillage Radish' at a county fair. I have all the literature on it somewhere but don't feel like digging around for it so hopefully this helps, Tillage Radish, Cover Crop Seed, Yield Increases, Soil Health, No-Till. I broadcast some seed the week before me and hava left on our road trip and it's actually growing which... is surprising considering we've had 2 frosts already.
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I'm thinking come next spring I'll just plant around the sprouts which will probably die back soon as we get a good week of hard frosts.
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The only problem I see with this cover crop is the quantity of seed I'd have to buy to continue using it. I think the minimum quantity is 25#. Eeek..... I used only half of the sample to seed 4 raised veggie beds so even if I seeded every bed I have... best guess is I'd have well over 20 lbs of seed left. This might be 1 of those situations where you find some friends into cover crops then split an order.
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Old 03-06-2014, 12:43 PM   #5
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I used buckwheat for a cover crop with some birdseed thrown in. That was quite a mix with millet[which looks like corn] and small headed sunflowers which the squirrels quickly consumed on ripening.

The buckwheat grew well but on inspecting the seeds they seemed to be rather small and breaking it open didn't seem to have much meat which means they'll probably not germinate if planted. I left them for the birds but with-out much meat they lost interest.

Radishes would be an ideal plant since leaving it to decay would help break up the clay. Soybeans could help with adding other nutrients to the soil. The greater the mix the greater the gain.
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Old 03-06-2014, 02:32 PM   #6
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Of course the sun flowers attracted all kinds of bees and adding anything from the pea family would be even better.

I noticed and have read that buckwheat nectar is released in the morning hours before the heat of the day which I found to be true.
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