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fall cover crops for hugel bed destined for rhubarb?

 
Posts: 77
Location: Portland, OR, USA, Zone 8b
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I built a small hugelkultur bed this past spring (full of goat manure), covered it in straw, and put a few pumpkin plants in to see what would happen (I should mention that I'm very, very new to this, and probably should have just planted cover crops right off). The main thing I discovered is that I hadn't spent enough time observing, and there weren't actually as many sunny hours out there as I thought there would be. The vines produced scantily, and I think now I'd like to try planting rhubarb, which can tolerate partial shade I've heard, and which I'm pretty sure the deer won't browse.

I'm thinking about cover crops to plant there now, maybe putting the rhubarb crowns in in spring. It's maybe a bit late in the year for planting cover crops where I am (7b, western slope of the Cascades) but it's now or never, for this year. What would you recommend? I'm very new to cover crops too. I love purslane, but maybe it would be better to seed that when I plant the rhubarb crowns.
 
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Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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What about a strawberry plant that produces a lot of runners? It wouldn't matter if it produces fruit or not, it's cold hardy for your area, low growing...etc..
 
Co Nelly
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Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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http://strawberryplants.org/2010/10/strawberry-varieties-by-state/


http://homeguides.sfgate.com/difference-between-everbearing-dayneutral-strawberries-43384.html


Just more info for ideas...

 
Anna Tennis
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Location: Portland, OR, USA, Zone 8b
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Ha! What a great idea, Colin! And haven't I heard something about strawberries and rhubarb together?... If I plant both of those in spring I'll still probably want to plant a cover crop right now in the hopes that it can get a foothold before it's winterkilled.

So what grows quickly and is somewhat - but not very - cold-tolerant?
 
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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West of the Cascades, Crimson Clover is a common winter cover crop.
It flowers through the winter, adds nitrogen to the soil (Inoculate the seed), and can be a chop/drop in spring (or sent to the compost heap.

 
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I grow strawberries and rhubarb (and blueberries) together, and they are quite happy. They all like the same acidic conditions. If you want more edibles on your rhubarb mound, you could add blueberry, lingonberries, mountain huckleberry or red huckleberry (the huckleberries and lingonberries are usually sold in the county conservation district plant sales, too!). Those all tolerate shade, too (especially the red huckleberry). If you do add the huckleberries, you might want to add a bunch of pine, fir, or hemlock needles/mulch, to make it more acid. Though, our soils are already pretty acidic here...
 
Co Nelly
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I'd probably sow winter greens seeds, as they are cheap, typically care free, and they wont cause harm or annoyance most likely:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/cold-hardy-plants-fresh-greens-zmaz06aszraw.aspx
 
Nicole Alderman
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Yeah, I'm new to cover crops, too, and the chop and drop thing just makes me scared that I'd miss some and they'd take over. I planted field peas and oats on my new hugel (I got them through High Mowing). You could also try planting daikon or tillage radishes, as they are sold cheap and in bulk for cover crops, but are still edible.
 
Co Nelly
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Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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I'm thinking that you meant things to plant this year but I guess you mean from seed more than planting, otherwise I think strawberries would still be OK...from seed the greens and I definitely agree with radishes since they are usually done in like 40-50 days, but there's not real need to harvest them, same with the greens, and they should all hold soil and crowd out weeds. Mustard greens have become on of my favorite because bees love the flowers and it's such a hardy plant with a good variety selection. Plus, good mustard is freakin awesome!
 
Anna Tennis
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Location: Portland, OR, USA, Zone 8b
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The deer would be *thrilled* if I planted winter greens out there as a cover crop. Although I suppose that's not the worst thing in the world...

Thanks much for the suggestions, everyone. I know I have some daikon radish seed around here somewhere. Maybe I'll try several things and see what happens.
 
Co Nelly
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Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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they'll fertilize, aerate, compost...all at the same time! lol


I like mixing a bunch of stuff, even out of season stuff, and sowing it all around. It doesn't matter if it grows to the maximum or not, just that it sprouts and takes up space and doesn't cause harm...if it's just ground cover, anyway!
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