This is my first time gardening, and am very excited and have been doing a lot of research.
Since I am starting from probably rather poor soil, I thought it might be a good idea to grow some green manures before I actually get started with the veggies. I've gotten a little stuck in my research and could use a little help. My goal is to transplant the veggies into the ground where I grew the green manures. It seems like it takes around 2 months for many of them to bloom to then till them under, and I've read that it is a good idea to wait around a month for everything to break down. That would mean I would be transplanting in August, which is totally fine if that is what I would have to do, but I would love to grow a month earlier in July instead.
From what I understand, buckwheat seems to be quite ideal for this situation as I've read that it can grow in poor soil, flower in just over a month, and likes to grow once it gets warmer. I am in zone 4/5 and it is just starting to get warmer now, however I am worried it may still be too cold for the buckwheat. Also, I can't seem to find a legume or other nitrogen fixer that can grow as fast as buckwheat or in poor soil.
I would really appreciate if someone could clear a lot of this up for me. I've just kind of gotten stuck and confused and probably just need to at least start somewhere
What is your approximate location? Do you know for sure if your soil is poor? Adding organic matter with initial planting is a good place to start. Compost, shredded leaves and grass clippings. I wouldn’t over think it until you plant a few things and see how it goes and let the plants tell you. Do you have many worms in your soil? That’s a good sign of soil health.
Starting small and experimenting is the way to get there. And you can do soil tests.
Dig, plant, experiment and have fun!! And ask questions. We all love this stuff!
Post by desertwoman on May 6, 2022 22:27:52 GMT -5
lemonade45 , Being in a zone 4/5 area gives you a shorter growing season. Planting in August wouldn't allow you to grow much or for very long.
I concur with mumsey.'s wise advice. And if you want to grow some food for this season I would add organic matter like compost, grass clippings, crushed leaves, used coffee grounds. Turn it in to the soil and plant a few things. Start small. See what happens, how the plants do.Your soil may not be as poor as you guess. (unless it is rock hard ) I live on a desert plateau at 7000 ft and the native soil is considered poor but it can also vary area to area. It is incredibly responsive to organic matter. We grew green manures when we had our organic orchard many years ago, but for my veggie gardens I have simply used compost and other organic matter. It takes a couple of years for the soil to become really rich but even the first year should give you some food and also great feedback. Over thinking it all won't help you. Experimenting will! Gardening has an intuitive aspect to it. Your personal spot is going to be unique and not always exactly like other peoples' gardens in your area.
And several years ago I converted to no-till- just layer the compost and other OM on top , cover with a thick crushed leaves mulch in the Fall. Then in Spring push the mulch aside and plant.
Also, it would be helpful if you could add your location and zone so that we can see it easily whenever thinking about/ responding to your questions. Go to your Profile>Edit Profile>Personal> Signature and enter the info there
Northern New Mexico Zone 6b (formerly Zone 5) Posting since 2005
Post by breezygardener on May 6, 2022 22:33:17 GMT -5
Wow - Zone 4/5?! And you're thinking of setting out transplants in August??! Regardless of what kind of "transplants" you're thinking of, that ain't gonna work at all. In your zone, any type of transplants need to be in the ground asap after your last possible frost date, which I'm guessing would be late May/early June at the latest, for you to get any type of harvest. First frost dates in your area run around Oct. 1st. Think about it.
If you're worried about your soil, try amending it with as much compost as you can & work it in well, then plant & see how it goes this season. If you still feel the need to do the "green manure" thing, do that towards the end of the season when your garden is done or nearly done.
**My body is a temple - unfortunately it's a fixer-upper.**
I would start with a soil test just to see what you have to work with. I grow winter rye for a cover crop, comes up quickly and has a lot of bulk. Field peas are another good cover crop. Adding nitrogen to your composting cover crop will speed the decomposition but of course, nitrogen prices are way up there along with everything else. I use black landscape fabric to help warm the soil in the spring, those few extra degrees help a lot. Another thought would be lawn clippings if you can find chemical-free lawns. Good luck and keep us informed!
USDA Zone 6a in Akron, NY on the left side of the state
lemonade45 , hopefully Lemonade is really busy gardening! Not sure if Lemonade is coming back, but knowing your approximate location would be helpful for making crop recommendations, particularly when the first and last frost dates are. Regarding your question about fast green manures that are cold tolerant, peas seem like the obvious choice, maybe some Austrian winter peas. Fava beans could also be good. A fast crop of soil busting diamonds could be inter planted with the peas and fava beans. Either way, you could plant the green manures in early spring and then chop and drop all of that great biomass onto the soil surface rather than tilling it in, throw some compost on top, and then set your transplants in. You could also plant a bunch of cold hardy cover crops in early fall and let them break down all winter and then set transplants in that area in spring. The green debris from the peas/beans will produce heat as it breaks down which will help your transplants when it’s still cool, and as the green material further breaks down, it will provide fertility and increase soil organic matter content, retain moisture, etc. I’m a big fan of green manures and cover crops, but I usually find that no-till systems work better in my environment. Every environment is different though! Best of luck to you Lemonade! Keep posting! Post some photos of your gardens!
Zone 8b, Deep South, coastal, not too far from Savannah