Friday, October 18, 2013

Cover crop seeds hold firm in 5+ inches of rain

 I planted barley, oat, and rye seed on October 6 for fall/winter cover crops. It was good to know that rain was expected the following week but I may have postponed my cover crop plans if I knew it would be a 5+ inch deluge! This would be a test of my lazy gardener method for planting cover crops:
1. Remove plants, stakes, and other debris
2. Cut weeds off at ground level with a sharp hoe
3. Loosen the soil with a garden fork
4. Rake the soil level and relatively smooth
5. Broadcast cover crop seed (cover crop fact sheet for details)
6. Walk on seeds to press them into the soil (must have good seed to soil contact for germination)

Step #6 elicited some laughter from my house and motivated my son to take some video with his phone. You see to efficiently and forcefully step on the maximum number of seeds I have to do a kind of cover crop dance (not sharing the video). I still felt there was a good chance that the rain would wash seeds to the low end of the beds. I was happily surprised to see that the lazy gardener method worked. I ended up with a good, even stand in each bed. The photo at top shows the emergence of a small bonus crop of buckwheat that re-seeded from a summer sowing.
Barley seedlings





Oat seedlings







Rye seedlings- notice the red stems




3 comments:

  1. So, let me get this straight, after loosening the soil and broadcasting the cover crop, you walked on the bed to compact the soil? Anyway, I think the Maryland Master Gardeners need to take a collection to bribe John's son for the video so that we can post it on YouTube.

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    Replies
    1. Clever you! I never thought of bribes, Kent. I was planning on pleading with Jon to share the video. If we go the bribery route, we just want to be careful not to start a bidding war between Jon and his son.

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  2. Walking is ok but a small step jig pushes down on the seed and soil with more force. The soil organic matter level is fairly high so I don't worry too much about compaction.

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