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clover in vegetables; what to be aware of  RSS feed

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Location: Denver, CO
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I am thinking of doing large scale vegetable plots with a white dutch clover mulch. What should I be aware of? What is the best way to implement this?

By the way, I am in a fairly moist site in a fairly dry climate. Would a different kind of clover work better?
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Some people find white clover's a great living mulch on annual gardens;
at my place, if I let it in the beds it forms pretty impenetrable mats.
My perennial gardens are a different story, and clover's encouraged.
 
wayne stephen
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Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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Have you seen Pauls' videos with Helen Atthowe using living clover mulches on a large scale ?



 
wayne stephen
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Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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You can also use annual Crimson clover as a mulch for annuals . Richo Cech of Horizon Herbs in his book "The Medicinal Herb Grower" writes :

"Crimson clover is famous for producing a dense , monotypic stand that discourages growth of weedy species . A solid cover crop of crimson clover will fix 150 lbs of pure nitrogen per acre by way of nitrogen nodules on the roots , and the aerial parts of the plant are rich in carbon and help build soil . Inoculate and sow 1 lb per 1000 square feet or 20 lbs per acre ."

To grow sweet corn Richo suggest allowing the corn to become knee high . Then sow the clover between the plants . The clover will force out the weeds and nourish the corn . After the ears are harvested cut the stalks . The clover will flower and you can mow that down .
 
Renate Howard
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We got a clover mix at the feed store. It was a bunch of kinds but no white clover (it was for deer plots/pastures). The clover grew large leaves, and grew tall but was much easier to cut back than white clover which can get so thick it will often choke plants out. The best kind had big pink flowers. It did discourage weeds in the place we planted it, and made nice rabbit food too. Some clovers die out if you try to keep them too short. For cutting hay they only cut them once or twice a year.
 
Christopher G Williams
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Location: Ossineke, MI
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I'm a great fan of clover and have 6 or 8 different types in my garden. The main warning I have is the same as the above poster: beware of clover choking out other plants. Most clovers are quite aggressive and will spread quick and thick into areas where it may not be welcome...

In particular I've had problems with white clover that I thought was supposed to be much shorter in length than it turned out to be. I seeded several strawberry beds with it, expecting that it would stay lower than the berries. This turned out not to be the case and I had countless hours of pulling clover out of those beds as they choked out the strawberries.

I'm trying birdsfoot trefoil this year as it is lower growing than most clovers. I can't testify to it's efficacy quite yet, but it may be something for you to consider.

Also I would give another thumbs up to crimson clover. Being an annual it gives you a little more leeway to plant it into areas where you suspect it may cause problems; as long as you don't let it go to seed you won't have a problem with it year after year...
 
J W Richardson
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Location: Council, ID
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I third the statement that white clover is too agressive for garden beds. i tried it and it was just too much.It does like moisture, and will out compete the couch grass if kept mowed and watered. i like it in the main pathways, it spreads by surface rhizomes but not like grass. if you have moist field areas that you can cut and use for mulch, you can frost seed into the field, and then keep shortish for establishment. Maybe a taller clover like mammoth red would be better for this though. it is supposed to frost seed in ok too.
 
James Colbert
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Gilbert, it can be done but it all depends on management methods. This is the reason for so many different responses. If you have a traditional garden bed and throw out clover with say lettuce seed it will choke out the lettuce because it grows faster and taller than the lettuce. However if you grow tomatoes or corn and wait until the plant is larger than the maximal height of the clover and then broadcast clover the tomato, corn, what have you, will probably thrive. To replant in this situation you would have to weaken the clover either by mowing, chop and drop, or animals. Animals are my favorite option. You can also create a natural system in which lettuce, corn, tomatoes, and clover grow together by periodically allowing animals to graze thus preventing the dominance of any one species and increasing diversity in the system. But this is something that needs to be built slowly and over time. The best option always seems to be, experiment.
 
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