To really start the urban farm on the right foot. I need to the soil and put as many nutrients into the soil. I am going to do this by using cover crops to the garden.
You can do a single crop for your cover crop. Like using just, a legume to boost the nitrogen into the soil. That is ok but it is not that diverse
You can also do a 2-seed cover crop mix like I did a couple of years ago. When I mixed hairy vetch, which is a legume and Winter Rye which is a grass. This worked ok but it wasn’t the best I could have used.
I was just learning all about cover crops and made the mix that well. I did a 50/50 split with the seeds. When I should have done a 60/40 legume/grass.
I have been doing even more in-depth research and studying about Cover Crops. What I have found out is that the more different kind of seeds that you have in the mix the better.
Each plant helps with a different component to the soil.
Where to Buy the Cover Crops
I have found different companies that sell cover crops. Most of the companies sell the seeds for high industrial agriculture farms and not sell for the small-scale vegetable producers.
I have found an awesome company out of Carrol, Ohio called Walnut Creek Seeds run by Dave and Ann Brandt. They sell to a wide range of farmers and gardeners.
From Industrial farming, grass feed livestock farmers, vegetable growers, and to the backyard gardener. They are not organic certified but they are OMRI approved for organic gardening.
They have all different mixes of cover crops for the vegetable growers.
The mixes that you can buy are Garden Summer Mix, Fall Cover Mix, Garden Cover and Color Mix, Garden Raised Bed Mix, and Garden Late Cover Mix. They also sell individual seeds that you can make your own mix at home.
What Mix Am I Using?
I am using the Garden Summer Mix right now. It has Cow Pea, Sunn Hemp, Pearl Millet, Flax, oilseed radish, Sunflower seeds.
What Walnut Creek Seeds says is it is good for rejuvenating the subpar soil. It will prevent erosion, biomass, organic matter, and fix nitrogen.
You can buy the mix in 1 pound $7.00, 5 pounds for 21.00, 10 pounds $35.00, and 50 pounds $85.00. I bought 3 pounds of the mix, which cost me 31.50 with shipping.
Sitting here writing this and looking at everything I should have bought the 5 pounds and got an extra 2 pounds for the same price.
I was going with recommended 200-300 square feet per pound.
Buy buying the 3 pounds is fine but I had enough seeds for the area but didn’t factor out I am new at the cover crops and using the inoculant.
With being new I over did it in the first bed and was running out of seeds at the end.
Let’s Talk About each plant
Cow Peas are a summer annual legume, which produces 100-150 lbs. of nitrogen to an acre. They are a great weed suppressor by shading out the soil and blocking out the sun for the weeds.
Cowpeas produce close to 4,000 lbs. an acre of biomass. You can terminate the plant at any time by cut it or crimp.
Sunn Hemp is new to the market in the United States. They are from Africa and can grow up to 20 feet tall there while making nitrogen nodules as big as a softball.
Here in the US, they grow to around 6-8 feet. They produce up to 100 lbs./acre of nitrogen and up to 5,000 lbs./acre of biomass. To terminate it you can cut it out crimp it.
Pearl Millet is a grass that can suppress soil-borne diseases. It produces 3-5 tons of biomass and is used as a natural mulch by crimping or cutting it down.
Flax is a broadleaf plant. Which will grab any excess nitrogen and other minerals in the soil. It provides a lot of organic matter back to the soil.
Oil Seed Radish
Oilseed radish is also known as Daikon radish. It has a tap root that can get down to 4 feet. It is great for loosening hard packed clay soil.
Sunflowers is a broadleaf plant. Help with beneficial insects.
Now it is just a waiting game for the seeds to germinate and do their job. I will continue to update through the process of the cover crops.
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