I've always used the cardboard/newspaper sheet mulch method to start new beds on top of grass and weeds. However, I'm looking for an alternative suitable for Atlanta,GA that will allow me to start gardens even when it isn't feasible to sheet mulch.
I thought of chayote. It's frost sensitive, so it wouldn't become invasive here. It grows quickly and thickly and produces food. Has anyone used chayote as a cover crop? Will it smother out weeds? For some reason, I've never thought to just let it crawl on the ground before.
Any suggestions for other vining, food producing crops that succeed as cover crops?
Sweet potatoes are great. I always grow them for the leaves. Yum! I'm not a fan of digging roots crops out of the ground. I'm lazy so I don't bother with the roots unless I grow them in containers where I can harvest them by turning just the containers over.
Chayote grows like crazy, so only a few would have to be planted to cover a large area. I just don't know if they would actually smother weeds. I'd have to plant a lot of sweet potatoes to cover a large area, but it's on the list of possibilities.
When do you plant to sow this cover? This coming spring?
go BUCKWHEAT man. I just got two harvests in SC, and had plenty of seed to grind for flour/and some for replanting. You get the leaves for a green manure, and it will grow super thick given the right temp. If it's too hot it grows spindly. If it's warm to mild it will grow full and lush. Full sun. I'm 100% for buckwheat,I love the stuff and it's the best bee food! http://sustainableseedco.com/Madawaska-Buckwheat.html You may also consider some field peas. Makes a great cover.
If I sow buckwheat, which I don't eat, it will take up valuable space from things I do eat. I wanted something viny to allow me to plant other things as well while choking out the grass. ("Choking out the grass" = so violent, yet so satisfying. LOL)
If you want to really choke stuff. Sow Buckwheat first , then cut after about 45-60days (its cold weather crop) Sow Sunnhemp into the Buckwheat before cutting. Grow the Sunnhemp for 60 days then cut that. Plant Chayote in the mulch the season after that. both Buckwheat and Sunnhemp are awesome fast... Check out YT for how the stuff grows. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORqcsHWX16Y&feature=related