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Using hairy vetch during the summer: possible?  RSS feed

 
Andrew Roesner
Posts: 10
Location: Denver, CO
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Hi All,

Starting this spring I'm going to open up some new ground against the south facing garage wall that will eventually become a greenhouse ready for planting in this autumn. The ground is currently under black plastic since September to kill off some weeds and i'll leave that on for most of the spring.

I'd like to plant a cover crop on it over the summer and I think vetch might be a good option, but I can't find any instance of using vetch this way. I can't imagine why it wouldn't work. It will grow fast, get big and I'll cut it at flowering, just like one would if it was planted in autumn like usual. I might even be able to get 2 crops in before I really need to get in there and start construction and prep the beds. Am I missing something about vetch? Does it require a winter? Does anyone know how long it takes to flower when planted in the summer like this? IF vetch is a bad idea can you recommend another legume that will help the soil, suppress weeds, and provide huge biomass for my compost?

Thanks!
 
Luke Groce
Posts: 49
Location: Louisville, KY
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My understandings is that vetch is a cool season crop. Cool season annuals don't want to germinate or live in hot weather typically -especially along a south facing wall. There are other legumes like cowpeas and black eyed peas and various beans that grow fine in summer. Why not plant a mix, to achieve each of your aims more effectively? You could do cowpea in early summer, then later under sown with buckwheat or Sudan grass, or something that grows quickly with tons of bio mass.
 
Wi Tim
Posts: 63
Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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I have hairy vetch growing naturally in a few spots, preferring partial sun. I do not water it, but it appears to be doing just fine. I guess you will need to water it from time to time.
 
Dylan Mulder
Posts: 50
Location: North Carolina
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Hey,

I grow hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) as a winter cover in zone 7b. I chop and drop most of it, but let some go to seed for saving. Inevitably, some of the pods always shatter before harvest. Volunteers come up a while later and persist through the hot and dry season. They don't put on much growth though, only about a foot. Then they sit idle until the cool season begins again.

Hope this helps you out.
 
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