Hairy Vetch Planting Benefits In The Garden
The following are some benefits of growing hairy vetch cover crop in your garden. These benefits include:
1) It helps to reduce weeds in the garden.
2) It provides food for birds and other animals.
3) It improves soil fertility.
4) It reduces insect pests such as aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, thrips etc.
5) It protects against wind erosion.
6) It improves air quality.
7) It increases biodiversity in the garden.
How To Grow Hairy Vetch Cover Crops?
There are various methods which you can follow to grow hairy vetch cover crops. You need to have a few things before starting with these methods. These items will help you to grow hairy vetch cover crops successfully. There are many varieties of plants which you can choose from depending upon your requirements and budget available. Some of these plants are:
1) Crimson Clover: This plant is native to Europe and United States.
It is grown for forage, honey production as well as a cover crop. This plant can be used as a companion for most of the broad leaf vegetables, fruits, berries, cereals, oil seeds etc.. The hairy stems of this plant make it different from other clovers. It has deep roots which helps it to fix nitrates in the soil. It also helps in improving soil fertility.
2) Alsike Clover: Native to Sweden and Finland, this plant is used for feed and forage purposes.
It can be grown in most parts of the world where temperature is between -30? and 20?
Celsius. It can be sown anytime during the year but spring is considered to be the best time.
3) Crimson or Crimson Sweet Clover: It is also known as Trifolium incarnatum.
It is a perennial type clover which is native to the Mediterranean region. It is one of the main components of Mediterranean grassland. It is mainly used as food for grazing animals and also for honey production.
How To Plant Hairy Vetch Cover Crop?
1) Choose an open place where the sunlight can easily reach the crops.
2) Use a tiller or plow to turn over the soil to a depth of 8 inches and then remove the weeds.
3) Rake the soil to make it uniform and level and for removing any stones or debris which may have come up when you tilled the soil.
4) Now prepare the bed by measuring out the area that needs to be planted.
5) Mark out the area in squares by using string or rope.
This is known as the “square foot method”. The size of the squares should be equal.
6) If your soil is heavy or clayey then you should increase the size of the squares.
7) Now dig holes and put in the plants in these squares by following a specific pattern.
8) You can also make rows instead of making squares and follow a specific pattern while putting in the plants.
9) Space out the plants at equal distances.
Usually 4 inches is good enough.
10) You should not put all the seeds in one hole as this can lead to disease and insect attack.
11) Make sure that there is minimum of 5 cm distance between two plants.
12) Place three seeds in each hole and then cover them with soil but do not cover them too much. The seed needs to be covered just enough so that water does not collect on it.
13) Fertilize the soil before putting the seeds.
14) Water the seeds and keep the area around them moist.
15) You can pull out all the weeds that grow around the crop since the clover are deep rooted and will easily outgrow any local weeds that grow around it.
Harvesting And Storage Of Hairy Vetch
These crops are usually harvested when they are about to bloom. You can also allow them to bloom and then collect the seeds after they have dried.
You can store them by putting the clover in paper bags and keep it in a dry and cool place.
Bags of clover can be used as animal fodder and also for making a good quality of honey.
These crops take a very short time to mature and can be harvested about 45 to 60 days after they have been planted.
Buying And Storing Seed
Hairy vetch is usually available in the form of seed which you can buy from a good nursery or agricultural store.
Buy the seeds only from a trusted source as these seeds may be contaminated with other seeds or grasses which can affect the quality and quantity of your yield.
It is always better to store your seeds in a cool and dry place such as a bank vault or a safe at home.
You can easily get these seeds online.
I have tried this crop in my garden and it was really fun to watch the animals graze on it. It tastes good and can really be a refreshing snack after a long day in the fields.
Also now I have an ample supply of seeds to grow it over and over again.
So the next time you feel like planting something new in your garden or backyard, just go ahead and try out this super easy and fast growing crop – hairy vetch!
You can also buy these online at Amazon.
You can get a good deal on Amazon.
You can also check out the price at eBay.
Why not read my guides on growing Blueberries and Growing Heirloom Blackberries.
I have also written a guide on Growing Raspberries and another one on Strawberries
Thanks for reading and good luck with your garden!
Sources & references used in this article:
Rolled winter rye and hairy vetch cover crops lower weed density but reduce vegetable yields in no-tillage organic production by MJ Leavitt, CC Sheaffer, DL Wyse, DL Allan – HortScience, 2011 – journals.ashs.org
Aspects of the host-parasite relationships of nematodes and hairy vetch. by RB Malek, WR Jenkins – … relationships of nematodes and hairy vetch …, 1964 – cabdirect.org
Reestablishing roots of a Mohawk community and a culturally significant plant: Sweetgrass by DJ Shebitz, RW Kimmerer – Restoration Ecology, 2005 – Wiley Online Library
Sustainable production of fresh-market tomatoes and other summer vegetables with organic mulches by AA Abdul-Baki, JR Teasdale – 1997 – books.google.com
Residual nitrogen and kill date effects on winter cover crop growth and nitrogen content in a vegetable production system by GR Cline, AF Silvernail – HortTechnology, 2001 – journals.ashs.org
Kochia suppression with cover crops in southwestern Kansas by JS Petrosino, JA Dille, JD Holman… – Crop, Forage & …, 2015 – Wiley Online Library
Tomato response to legume cover crop and nitrogen: differing enhancement patterns of fruit yield, photosynthesis and gene expression by T Fatima, JR Teasdale, J Bunce, AK Mattoo – Functional Plant Biology, 2012 – CSIRO