• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Best way to sow rye cover crop

 
                          
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Greetings,

i just moved to a farm in central France, and am about to try sowing rye as a cover crop to get rid of persistent weeds and improve the soil. right now i've got a somewhat time-sensitive question on how to deal with a very large garden space that has quite a problem with invasive ferns and brambles rushing in every year from the forest alongside the garden.

i came to the garden today with a plan to use a rototiller to turn the soil (i know, a sin, one i hope to avoid in the future when i have time to plan ahead), and then to sow winter rye. however, the rototiller has broken down, with no easy fix in sight. i decided to use a weed whacker and cut down all the weeds to ground level. i'm wondering if i can now just sow the winter rye and it will out-compete the weeds, or if i should instead put down a layer of sheep manure mixed with straw from the sheep stable, and then sow the seeds into that? my concern with the latter is that the nitrogen from the fumeur might burn the seeds, and there may not be enough manure to cover the entire area.

thanks much for any advice!
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 855
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you have bare soil under the slash you may get reasonable germination, but not as good as on a seed bed. 

In my humid climate during a wet spell I can get germination from seed lying on the surface.  It seems to be better under a thin mulch, and better yet if the seed is somehow pressed into the ground.  Somehow rolling the seed might help germination.  I wonder if a heavy sowing and running stock in there might help germination?

Birds may swoop in and eat your seed.  That's why Fukuoka embeds seeds in little clay pellets.  That approach might be worth it... but I'd hesitate because of the competition.

After germination, since you haven't disturbed the root system of brambles and what sounds like rhizome ferns, I suspect they will compete very well with the rye (they have intact root systems while the rye does not.)  You may get less regeneration from the seed bank, but may not set back the ferns and brambles much.  I guess it depends on 'what next' and where you are trying to go with this process.

 
Brice Moss
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
could you get a large tarp or lay down some old plywood over the bed for a few months to tire out the roots before reseeding
 
                          
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul Cereghino wrote:
If you have bare soil under the slash you may get reasonable germination, but not as good as on a seed bed. 

In my humid climate during a wet spell I can get germination from seed lying on the surface.  It seems to be better under a thin mulch, and better yet if the seed is somehow pressed into the ground.  Somehow rolling the seed might help germination.  I wonder if a heavy sowing and running stock in there might help germination?

that's an interesting idea. or, what about if i raked a heavy seeding into the soil/slash?

>>After germination, since you haven't disturbed the root system of brambles and what sounds like rhizome ferns, I suspect they will compete very well with the rye (they have intact root systems while the rye does not.)

that's what i suspect as well. do you have any long term strategies for rhizome ferns?

a few ideas:

* put up an electric fence and let pigs or goats graze there a couple times/year

* sow a plant/tree guild that resists incursions by the rhizomes

* call a work party and build a stone wall (lots of old stones around here) that is deep enough in the ground to discourage--somewhat--the rhizomes from entering the garden from their forest stronghold

>> I guess it depends on 'what next' and where you are trying to go with this process.

trying to get to a no-till situation where there is always a layer of mulch, or ramial chips, or cover crop.

thanks!

 
                          
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
brice Moss wrote:
could you get a large tarp or lay down some old plywood over the bed for a few months to tire out the roots before reseeding


this is an interesting idea for sure. i have tried it before at a different location, though i did it rather late (in march, not long before planting in may). the tarp definitely tired out the weeds *somewhat*, but i'd really like to suppress them more thoroughly. perhaps a thick layer of straw mulch, and then a tarp for added measure?
 
Aljaz Plankl
Posts: 384
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
trying to get to a no-till situation where there is always a layer of mulch, or ramial chips, or cover crop.

I would like more details if possible. For what this land will be used? What you want to do there. Food forest? Vegetable garden?
As you said, if you only want no-till situation, layer of mulch, or ramial chips, or cover crop you already have all this. Mulch will be always available by cutting the vegetation and other woody stuff growing there.
For cover crop. Take some soil and mix in the rye seeds. Add water to get muddy liquid. Add more soil so the stuff is not muddy any more. Broadcast. From here on cover crop will be always there, self seeding every year if you don't harvest. You just need to cut everything in october for best results or you could leave it to nature.
As Paul said, rye will not suppress your "weeds".
Why not use bramble as food? It grows from one main root. In winter cut and weed the area, leaving one or two main strongest shoots from these roots. Hang them to a 3-4 meter pole with a hook on the end. Plenty of fruit.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 855
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Around here, shoots of Bracken (Pteridium aquilinium) can be eaten (as fiddleheads; although there was a carcinogen scare that stops some folks).  I think Plankl might be on a good trajectory.  Complete replacement of existing veg may not be 'least action greatest effect' depending on where you are trying to get.  Many of the species may be useful. 

For covering with plastic.. a higher grade woven weed fabric won't photodegrade and is movable - you can get more use out of it.

Running stock can severely change vegetation and create lots of bare ground, but our Bracken fern has deep roots, and is very resilient -- if removing it from the system is your goal, you likely need something like a 2 year treatment.

I suspect sub-surface rock wall won't do diddely.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic