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rye coming up in a bed

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rye coming up in a bed

Post  jimmy cee on 12/5/2014, 5:26 pm

A couple of months ago, just after the completion of elevating my 1st bed I tossed a bunch of rye seeds in it.
Now the beginning of Dec. I see what looks like heavy grass growing up...
I suppose this may be called a cover crop, why did I do this ?  Just something to do I suppose.
I like to see something growing during the off season if possible, didn't get garlic this fall due to needing to raise my beds...
Do you do this also ?

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 12/5/2014, 8:22 pm

I have yet to explore cover crops but it's on my list!  My goal is to produce everything I need to grow my own veggies on my own land - we're going to plant some more poplars and cottonwood trees as I can chip them easily for my own mulch.  I also want to grow my own material for composting as much as possible.  I have all the aged cow and horse manure I can shovel.  So with that all my soil and my raised beds should be very, VERY productive.

This gardening stuff is addictive, I figured I would have learned all I needed to know by now and would just keep doing the same things over and over again, but there' always some way to improve on what you have, LOL!

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  sanderson on 12/5/2014, 8:31 pm

Jimmy, Haven't tried any cover crop. I think here in mid CA there hardly seems to be any time at all between cleaning the beds in the late fall and planting in the early spring. Are you going to "mow" them and then turn under, roots and all?

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  boffer on 12/5/2014, 8:43 pm

Cover crops can be very helpful for row gardeners. They can be redundant for SFG:

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t8236-green-manure-does-not-come-from-cows

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  camprn on 12/5/2014, 8:48 pm

@boffer wrote:Cover crops can be very helpful for row gardeners.  They can be redundant  for SFG:

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t8236-green-manure-does-not-come-from-cows
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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  jimmy cee on 12/5/2014, 11:23 pm

Boffer

I quickly read through your link.
Honest to goodness !!! ( and I'm surely not complaining ) I started this SFG with the intentions of doing less work in my gardening endeavors,  it didn't work for me...I even had the beds already done and in use for years.
I'm aware that no one is to blame but ME.  I should have known, I can't seem to do a simple task, I must develop into the most difficult project that can be had.
And ya know what ????   I love it
As long as it's not going to create a negative with my beds I think I will watch it this year and see what happens.
I do understand your comparison column in your thread link and find it interesting

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  Turan on 12/6/2014, 12:26 am

Growing a cover crop is something I keep pondering on but have not done.
The purpose
I see for a cover crop are to grow next years mulch that also feeds the soil.  It keeps the nitrogen cycle going.  For my purposes I would want a decidedly annual and tender crop.  Then let it die come winter and leave it there.  I would want to plant something that is 1/sq like broccoli and cabbages.  So that means thinking a year ahead in planning.  The only bed I can think of that is out of production part way through the summer that I have not had the best luck with a fall crop for is the garlic bed.  

I have been thinking about buckwheat and berseem clover.

I am not sure any of this is really pertinent for those of you in milder climates with lots of fall crops and little or no down time in a garden.

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  sanderson on 12/6/2014, 12:53 am

Boffer, Thanks for posting that link.  You probably saved several folks "the heart ache of rye."  Or clover.  Or buckwheat.

Jimmy, report your results to us in the spring.

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  yolos on 12/6/2014, 1:29 am

I am experimenting with cover crops this year.  I planted buckwheat in one bed, let it grow to 2 - 2.5 feet and then turned it under with a hoe just before the first frost.  Then I planted ANNUAL rye grass and winter peas in the same bed.  They are growing very slowly because that part of the garden does not get much sun in the late fall and winter.  I have another bed that I planted winter peas as a cover crop.  They are also growing slowly because the sun just barely skims over the tree tops in that part of the garden in the late fall and winter.

The reason I am growing cover crops is because I do not use those beds in late fall and winter because of the sun.  So rather than have them sit idle, I am experimenting with cover crops.  Also, I am not satisfied with the consistency of my SFG soil.  It is too friable (if that is possible).  It just seems to dry out too quick here in the south.  I thought turning in some green manure crops in the early spring might help to add body to the soil.  And because they are nitrogen fixers mostly, they will not rob the soil of the nitrogen as they decompose (maybe).  Of course, I guess I could add partially composted compost to the beds and that would do the same thing but would it then rob nitrogen from the soil as it continues to compost. 

PS - I love to hoe in the sfg beds.  After years of trying to break up clay soil, it is actually satisfying to hoe a bed here and there from time to time.

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  jimmy cee on 12/6/2014, 8:05 am

@yolos wrote:

PS - I love to hoe in the sfg beds.  After years of trying to break up clay soil, it is actually satisfying to hoe a bed here and there from time to time.
That says it all for me, only I enjoy using my hands while working in my beds.
Almost like a kid in a sand box.

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  boffer on 12/6/2014, 7:40 pm

@jimmy cee wrote:Boffer...I should have known, I can't seem to do a simple task, I must develop into the most difficult project that can be had.
And ya know what ????   I love it...

Jimmy, it's your garden, and like they used to say, 'If it feels good, do it'!  

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  walshevak on 12/8/2014, 2:28 am

@jimmy cee wrote:
@yolos wrote:

PS - I love to hoe in the sfg beds.  After years of trying to break up clay soil, it is actually satisfying to hoe a bed here and there from time to time.
That says it all for me, only I enjoy using my hands while working in my beds.
Almost like a kid in a sand box.

I'm a hands on person as well and I tend to forget gardening gloves.  But MM is so friable and easy to work with.

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Cover crops

Post  SQFTBIX on 12/8/2014, 12:12 pm

I adhere to most of the Square foot regimen as I have been doing it for near 30 or so years if memory serves me.  I have two very long rows that are 4 X 18'.  Last year, a neighbor gave me enough rye to do one bed so I just threw it on there.  Early that spring, I weed whacked the rye, let it rot and then worked it into the soil.  The results were better than I believed they may have been.  I grew the same beans and peppers in both beds.  The beans from the cover cropped area produced more beans and additional crop.  The peppers appeared to be bigger and a little more productive as the peppers in the cover crop bed were bigger and had more peppers.
While this definitely wouldn't qualify as a true experiment, there is a lot of evidence that doing cover crops helps in many ways.  With the cost of vermiculite rising, using cover crops - if you leave the roots of them in tact - can act just like vermiculite.  Would I recommend it to everyone?  Not sure.  
I have winter rye in both beds to reinvigorate them this year.  I am always in favor of a cheap green manure that I can control from A-Z.  The Rodale Institute in Kutztown PA is probably the largest experimental group for organic gardening and they heartily advocate for cover crops for too numerous reasons to list here.  Of course, they are speaking about farms versus gardens.
My goal is to become completely organic in my approach.  But I also have to watch the bottom line when it comes to costs and when I find a suitable (and organic) substitute, then I will take the leap.

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Cover Crop..what to do with it.

Post  jimmy cee on 2/22/2016, 11:13 am

After my beds were done last fall I added this rye. It grew nicely and now I want to do what is necessary to make beds whole again...
Should the tops just be cut off ? leaving roots in the mix be taken care of by our dear microbes?
From what I've been reading, it's not a good idea to tear up the root system seeing that would be harmful to our microbe friends.
I have found out that this particular cover crop ( rye ) is detrimental to seed germination. a few weeks is needed for crop to be gone.

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/22/2016, 11:45 am

I was wondering about cover crops & adding compost when I was reading the 'Microbe' book.  I think in the book it mentions that it's OK to disturb down to about 6 inches, just not to rototill which goes deeper.  In which case you would turn the rye under as originally planned.  I came away from the book thinking I could gently mix  my added compost into the MM, which is as Mel instructs, rather than spreading it across the top. But I could be wrong & be remembering incorrectly.  

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  jimmy cee on 2/22/2016, 1:42 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:I was wondering about cover crops & adding compost when I was reading the 'Microbe' book.  I think in the book it mentions that it's OK to disturb down to about 6 inches, just not to rototill which goes deeper.  In which case you would turn the rye under as originally planned.  I came away from the book thinking I could gently mix  my added compost into the MM, which is as Mel instructs, rather than spreading it across the top. But I could be wrong & be remembering incorrectly.  

CC
I've been mixing my compost in previous years with each square with no negative effects. Think I will just get that trowel out and go to work very gently, maybe singing while I do that will soothe those darling microbes so they won't be distressed...Then again with my singing they are sure to be distressed...ooohhh what to do...I'll need another beer on that one..

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  Zmoore on 2/23/2016, 11:08 am

IMO, a slight conflict with the "no-till" and how it relates to the book "teaming with microbes" and the SFG method exists.  Generally, the "no till" discussions are talking about "no till" in terms of standard procedure to till or plow to depths of 1' or more.  Generally, if you have a typical garden and in-situ soil and only till the top few inches that's practically considered "no till", even though technically you are tilling some, but in relation to standard practices (1' or more) it is minimum.  In SFG you only have about 6" total to begin with, so a few inches is a significant portion of your total depth.  

The standard in-situ garden and "no-till" combined with the "teaming with microbes" is talking about promoting a flourishing root system and microbes deeper down into the subsoil to help provide a deeper level of nutrients and passage ways for those nutrients, standard tilling practices disturbs that level and disrupts natural amount of nutrients that would/should be there naturally.  In SFG we're cutting off access to that level after about 6" with weed matting and/or wire and focusing on making that 6" layer provide everything we need and even restricting the root system access to anything below that.

So, for SFG I think the cover crop is more of what they refer to as a green manure, so I tend towards the general concept of cut it, run a hoe through it to cut the roots, let it set, and that's my first layer or supplemental layer of compost/mulch for the garden.  

 However, I think you can adapt a more "no-till" method with SFG if you want.  It's just that the root system you're preserving is only about 6" deep anyway and the area you're preserving it in an "area" that is already "pre-made" to be "airy" and spongy (peat moss and vermiculite) and have nutrients (compost).  BUT, adding some "no-till" might help with preserving the structure of the media (reduce/delay compaction) and provide more weed control.  

My 2 cents.

I found some info on a web-site for you that runs through a couple different options for managing cover crop.             


From: http://learn.eartheasy.com/2009/01/no-till-gardening/

Cover crops

These can be planted during the off-season for a garden bed as a way of discouraging weeds from becoming established, and to return essential nutrients to the soil. Crops such as crimson clover, oats, rye and hairy vetch are referred to as ‘green manures’ because of the fertility they add to the soil. Rye should not be planted preceding small-seeded crops like onions or carrots.
To replant a bed which has been planted in a cover crop, lay dark plastic sheeting over the bed and weight down the edges with rocks. Heat will build sufficiently to kill the plants, then vegetable seed or transplants can be set out after removing the plastic. Ideally, allow two weeks before planting to allow crop residues to break down, releasing nitrogen for the new seedlings. This method takes time, however, and can conflict with the spring planting schedule. Another method is to hand pull the cover crop where you want to place the seedlings, and cover the remaining cover crop with a thick layer of mulch. Another method is the cut the cover crop to a stubble, then gently work the stubble into the soil with a hoe. This process compromises the ‘no till’ method, but can still be sufficient to allow early planting.
- See more at: http://learn.eartheasy.com/2009/01/no-till-gardening/#sthash.KGFibFhe.dpuf

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Re: rye coming up in a bed

Post  jimmy cee on 2/23/2016, 12:36 pm

Zmoore
Excellent thoughts.
I started puling my rye yesterday, while the MM was still pretty well frozen...It pulled easy enough with some of the roots coming with it. The I took my hand rake and just brushed over the top like a comb.
Going to let this set for a while to see what happens. I will know more once the freeze lifts and I can see how far down those roots go.
I only plant these to be able to see green during winter, and this rye stays green, which is so noticeable after the snow melts..
I'm going to keep everything on top and see how that works.

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