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Roy Hinkley
Post     Subject: Planting cover strip between baby trees with broad fork

A de-thatching blade on a lawnmower does a passable job of scraping back the grass enough to get tiny seeds like clover and alfalfa to start. Cut the grass as low as you can first but only where you're going to seed, then make a couple of passes with the de-thatching blade. Spread your seed and then start cutting the grass just beside your seeded strip, shooting the grass clippings over your seeded strip as mulch.
It will take some trial and error to get things just right, how wide a strip you can seed while leaving enough grass to use as mulched clippings.
If you have a mower that will bag the grass clippings, even better. You can cut as much grass as you like, save the clippings, and de-thatch and seed, then use your bagged clippings as mulch.

I've done a few test strips this spring with a riding mower and it's worked out well with the small seeds. I used a couple of old blades that I bent enough to contact the ground but I'll have to make a couple of proper blades with spring loaded tines if I want to go to a larger scale.

Buckwheat are fairly large seeds, if you go by the planting depth rule of 2x as deep as the seed diameter you'll need a lot of mulch or a thin layer of soil over the seed. At least drive over the seed a few times with an ATV or riding mower to drive it into the dirt.
siu-yu man
Post     Subject: Planting cover strip between baby trees with broad fork

i would suggest skipping the garden weasel. we have one, it sucks.
you'll spending 3+x's as much time pulling grass out of the tines as you will actually cultivating.

agree with WB, given your conditions, cutting grass to the stub might be best, especially if it's really high right now.
a string trimmer works well for that if you let it skim the earth.

you could also maybe rig up a small chain harrow or some landscape spikes on a 2 X 4 and drag it back & forth to maximize seed-soil contact as much as possible.
William Bronson
Post     Subject: Planting cover strip between baby trees with broad fork

H There is a thing called a crimper that crushes cover crops into slots in the earth. Apparently they are not so common. There maybe a DIY version.
Alternatively maybe mow the existing grasses into submission and sew into the resulting duff.
BTW why buckwheat?
Johnathan Edwards
Post     Subject: Planting cover strip between baby trees with broad fork

Thanks for that information which is great to have generally--Right now, I am not having trouble getting garden implements into the ground, though it is hot and fairly dry right now, it has rained 2" this week. I am looking for a solution or tool that will disturb and remove the grass without actually flipping soil and disturbing the roots of the trees some of which are fairly shallow, at least enough so that I can remove bentgrass and crabgrass and give the buckwheat a chance (I am also hoping that the broadforking encourages deep rooting for the trees). Someone recommended a garden weasel, though I couldn't find any examples of that doing that task. Thank you!
William James
Post     Subject: Planting cover strip between baby trees with broad fork

Would I be safe in assuming that it is hot outside and it hasn't rained for a while?

My soil is harder than cement in that situation, so I don't even bother messing with it.
I just wait until it rains well enough to get garden implements into the ground, which is usually 3 days of good rain.

I find that early-mid spring and mid-late fall are the best times to touch the soil, unless rain patterns are off.
Last year I did well with winter-grown clover, both red and dutch white. Seeded in november, it came up in the spring, the red flowered/died then the dutch took over.
Johnathan Edwards
Post     Subject: Planting cover strip between baby trees with broad fork

Question about cover cropping:

I am trying to start a little orchard: I have approximately 1 acres of heirloom trees. I just dug holes to plant and nursed with a fungal root dip, organic phosphate and nutrients and peastone mulch on top. I now want to plant strips of buckwheat between the trees (trees are planted perpendicular to south facing slope). I have 2 broadforks and 3 people. The problem I am now finding is that while the broadfork does a great job with loosening compaction, there is still a ton of thick grass between the holes the broadfork made. I have 270 trees so I don't have enough material or time to sheet mulch, and I am planting the buckwheat late anyway, I plan to cut it down once it flowers. If I try to turn the sod over, I expose tree roots and it is extremely lumpy, also supremely difficult to do. Can I just drop buckwheat seeds into the holes created by the broadfork and water them, could I use a garden weasle to break up the grass, or is there something else you recommend? There is about 10' between each tree, I have 25 lbs of buckwheat and 3 people. I would appreciate some help! Thanks,