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Hairy vetch advice

 
Scott Stiller
Posts: 290
Location: North Carolina zone 7
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Hello friends. I'll be planting some vetch this spring to help rehabilitate some poor soil. I'm curious if any of you have advice on using it? Also curious about any drawbacks. Thank you in advance.
 
Ben Stallings
Posts: 156
Location: Emporia, KS
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Vetch in a monoculture is a pretty reasonable cover crop. Vetch in a polyculture is a nightmare, because it twines around everything else. Removing it or even trimming it back while leaving the other crops intact is very time consuming.
 
Scott Stiller
Posts: 290
Location: North Carolina zone 7
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Thanks for your help Ben. Will it self seed and take over an area if left alone?
 
Ben Stallings
Posts: 156
Location: Emporia, KS
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I don't know, sorry. I hope some other folks will weigh in.
 
Alex Brands
Posts: 55
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Scott Stiller wrote:Thanks for your help Ben. Will it self seed and take over an area if left alone?


Here in zone 6 Pennsylvania, a lot of the embankments along highways are covered in hairy vetch every summer. I can't imagine the highway department is seeding all those miles every year, so it must be self seeding. In my own garden, I prepped the area with a mixed cover crop back in 2003/2004, including hairy vetch. It's planted as a small forest garden now, and every year I get some vetch plants showing up. Only once was it a nuisance where I felt the need to manage it (just tearing a lot of it out), because it was smothering other plants and climbing into fruit trees.
 
Jessica Padgham
Posts: 95
Location: Denver, Co 6000ft bentonite clay soil
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I have seen a few sprouts in my garden this spring from the hairy vetch that I planted winter 2014. It bloomed spring and summer 2015 and in some places I deliberately popped open dried seed pods and spread it around. So far the results are poor but it's still early.

Pennsylvania ( I used to live there) uses a lot of crown vetch as I recall and that one is a perennial.
 
Alex Brands
Posts: 55
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Jessica Padgham wrote:I have seen a few sprouts in my garden this spring from the hairy vetch that I planted winter 2014. It bloomed spring and summer 2015 and in some places I deliberately popped open dried seed pods and spread it around. So far the results are poor but it's still early.

Pennsylvania ( I used to live there) uses a lot of crown vetch as I recall and that one is a perennial.


Hmmm, maybe it's crown vetch that I'm seeing along the highways then. I'll take a closer look this summer, the flowers should tell me for sure.
 
Jessica Padgham
Posts: 95
Location: Denver, Co 6000ft bentonite clay soil
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Let us know. I'd be curious to know if it's changed. I do remember my Ecology professors complaining about it and wishing something native was used in it's place.
 
chip sanft
Posts: 354
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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I planted some hairy vetch seed in my backyard a couple years ago. It grew up quickly and it's still coming back. I like the flowers and the organic matter it builds up. It hasn't spread wildly or anything like that for me, but such things can really vary depending on local conditions.

One thing comes to me, since you're in NC, Scott: For me vetch hasn't done well in the East Tennessee summer. It's something that really likes the southeastern spring and, to a lesser degree, the fall and warmer wintertime. It dies back in summer but grows out again when the temperatures go down.
 
Scott Stiller
Posts: 290
Location: North Carolina zone 7
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Thank you all for the replies. It's helped a lot with a plant I'm not familiar with. I love cover crops and soil builders but I wanted to learn more about this one.
 
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