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How to prep a small field covered with vetch, without tilling  RSS feed

 
Miguel Laroche
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I started farming recently and I have a small field (just over half acre) that is covered with vetch, I think its been re-seeding itself for a couple years. How do I go about preparing the ground for next year and I am trying to avoid tilling. Also, is it worth my while going through it to harvest seeds? Thank you
 
John Elliott
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First off, where are you located? In my neighborhood, vetch makes a good winter cover crop and if there is any seed to harvest, it's in March or April, so I'm thinking you must be further north than I am.

You could just mow it down low and plant the field with some tillage radish. If you are way far north, zone 5 and colder, it will winter kill and you can plant the field in the spring. If you are zone 7 or warmer, the tillage radish may overwinter and you can harvest it as forage when you get ready to plant in the spring.
 
Miguel Laroche
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I am on Vancouver Island just north of Nanaimo. The field is small enough, I was also thinking of covering the field with cardboard and then leaves on top in the Fall, would the vetch seeds germinate through this sheet mulch in the spring?
 
John Elliott
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I wouldn't cover the vetch up very much if you want it to re-emerge in the spring. I don't pay much attention to it, other than to notice when the pods break open and it reseeds itself. I suppose you could collect seed now and save it over the winter and then reintroduce it on top of all your sheet mulching.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Hi Miguel. I'm in south Nanaimo, near Gogo's sawmill and the paintball place. John pointed this thread out to me. Unfortunately, I have no experience with cover crops. I've been mulching with alder and cottonwood leaves and dumping mountains of coffee waste on the soil .I'd be interested in seeing what you do. I've got giant soil covered slash piles that I call hugelkultur.
 
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