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Deep rooting cover crops???  RSS feed

 
john lindsey
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We have a couple acres of old hay field. we had horses on it for a little while and the owners moved most of the manure to the side. That depleted the soil noticeably.

What kind of deep rooting plants can we grow in the sandy soil. I was thinking about white clover and even Dandelions.

I don't want to spend very much on seed. maybe some place has a seed mix for the pacific NW with reasonably mild winters??; lots of rain.
 
John Master
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what do you intend to do with the land? Tillage radish and daikon have some nice deep tap roots.
 
Marco Banks
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Sweet potatoes are a great cover crop, and you can eat the roots. And leaves.
 
Philip Hyndman
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Weeds. they're free and often deep rooted. Weeds are the ultimate cover crop.
 
john lindsey
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I just want to build some soil for potential use. I was inspired by the 10 foot tall perennial wheat I saw in a video that sent me here . There is virtually nothing there, the grass roots are only about one inch deep. the Johnson grass is a little deeper and impossible to pull out in dry weather.

almost pure sand under the very thin layer. I do not want to till it, that will destroy the soil and turn it into a dessert.

I am thinking of rolling the seed in clay, so it will sprout and grow before it gets eaten by birds etc.

Daikon radish gets attacked by root maggots. the first time i grew it in my garden I was sitting watching the bugs and down swooped a maggot fly to lay its eggs.



John Master wrote:what do you intend to do with the land? Tillage radish and daikon have some nice deep tap roots.


I don't know if our sandy soil an grow roots like this , but I want to try.

[img]https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a7/4_Seasons_Roots.jpg/450px-4_Seasons_Roots.jpg
[/img]
 
Rue Barbie
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Philip Hyndman wrote:Weeds. they're free and often deep rooted. Weeds are the ultimate cover crop.


That's what I'm coming around to. I don't do 'acreage', but in my various beds around the property, I'm coming to really appreciate all the lush weeds that have been pre-seeded by nature. I've been adding some new varieties to the mix to make it more attractive and vary the mix of what comes up, and been removing things such as thistle and brassicas which either are painful or a bit too rank for the front yard.

There are some seeds you can buy at the grocery, which when shipping costs are factored in, are quite reasonable. Lentils, black-eyed peas, some grains, bird seed, sunflower seeds.

I did grow buckwheat which is often mentioned as a good CC. I thought it very successful. It germinated well, grew fast, attracted bees. Shallow root system however.
 
john lindsey
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Can you name some so called weeds that are good for soil development in the PC NW near Seattle. Thistles are trying to take over our field, and my land lords are trying to stop it. Yet at the same time they are probably the best thing for it.

Of course there is vetch, but that does not seem very deep rooting.

it would be very good to have a chart like this, well I just need to figure out which ones will grow around here.

 
jimmy gallop
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Don't know what your plans are but for summer cover crops you can get good coverage with just using scratch grain or bird feed like you get at wall mart probably the cheapest your going to find
 
Patrick Mann
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I recently discovered parsnips as a great cover crop. They are really deep rooting - and you can eat them too. But most importantly, they produce a million seeds.
 
john lindsey
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will parsnips sprout early , like in the cold of march or February?

gotta get a head start on the birds. maybe some kind of primitive wheat or barley grass??






Patrick Mann wrote:I recently discovered parsnips as a great cover crop. They are really deep rooting - and you can eat them too. But most importantly, they produce a million seeds.
 
john lindsey
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what kind of plants do the seed come from?






jimmy gallop wrote:Don't know what your plans are but for summer cover crops you can get good coverage with just using scratch grain or bird feed like you get at wall mart probably the cheapest your going to find
 
Rue Barbie
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john lindsey wrote:what kind of plants do the seed come from?

If you are asking what seeds are in store-bought birdseed - it varies by brand, region, and the birds one wants to attract. It says on the label what is in the particular bag. The birdseed I used for quick cover crop was mostly millet, sunflower, safflower, and a bit of sorghum. You can also add other seeds, like some legumes, to a basic bird seed mix. If I recall, many believe that using 8 to 10 different type of seeds makes the most effective cover crops.





 
john lindsey
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maybe I should look for weeds that going to seed now in the spring.





Rue Barbie wrote:
john lindsey wrote:what kind of plants do the seed come from?

If you are asking what seeds are in store-bought birdseed - it varies by brand, region, and the birds one wants to attract. It says on the label what is in the particular bag. The birdseed I used for quick cover crop was mostly millet, sunflower, safflower, and a bit of sorghum. You can also add other seeds, like some legumes, to a basic bird seed mix. If I recall, many believe that using 8 to 10 different type of seeds makes the most effective cover crops.





 
Thomas warren
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Just out of curiosity, what part of PNW are you in?
I'm in Sunnyside, got similar projects with repairing soil with deep roots. Or at least trying.
 
john lindsey
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I am near Port Townsend.....not too far above sea level. I see a lot of Clover (white?) and Dandelions growing in the hay fields and they are doing very well this year because of the excessive rain earlier.

I think Mallow is another weed growing here. I also have seen Vetch.

I gotta look for bulk wild flower seed, with out poppy, it takes up too much nutrients. And I may need 25lbs for an acre....

ok the first place i came to has a few clovers and the Alsike Clover Seeds maybe the best but more expensive than I want to spend. at $30 for 5 lbs. maybe I need to contact the local farm supply shop.

http://www.americanmeadows.com/grass-and-groundcover-seeds/ideal-region/pacific-northwest/advantages/soil-enhancer

I see that white clover has a very shallow root system. But Ladino white and red clovers and alfalfa are much deeper.

Here is a good page to read; I was hoping I did not have to search for these, but at least I have anew fast computer.

https://extension.udel.edu/weeklycropupdate/?tag=hay-pasture-nutrition

http://www.listentoyourhorse.com/equine-permaculture-in-rainy-climates-system-for-sustainable-pastures/

http://www.permies.com/t/25172/desert/small-acreage-grazing-Pacific-Northwest

and for western washington:
http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/eb1870/eb1870.pdf













Thomas warren wrote:Just out of curiosity, what part of PNW are you in?
I'm in Sunnyside, got similar projects with repairing soil with deep roots. Or at least trying.
 
Jeremy Mecham
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For $50 you could broadcast plant pearl millet very heavily. It puts down very deep roots on minimal water. It's pretty miraculous as far as cover crops go. Along with the roots, you'll get up to 10,000 lbs of biomass that could be mowed and left in place to return nutrients to the ground. Sorghum sudangrass is a pretty similar option that would give similar results, the only difference being the roots won't go nearly as deep if you don't mow it the first time it reaches about waist high.
 
john lindsey
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looks like it needs tillage to start it. I really need something that wil germinate in late winter- early spring...like clovers or Winter Triticale?

Planting rates vary from 15 to 25 pounds per acre depending on whether the seed is broadcast or planted in rows. Planting dates are usually from May to July but can be earlier in the deep South. Soil temperature needs to be a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit for germination. Seeding depth should be 1/2 inch.


For optimum forage production, moderate fertility is suggested although pearl millet will grow on lower fertility soils. Fertilize using soil test recommendations. If a soil test is not available, fertilize at similar rates to other annual grass crops. Grazing pearl millet should begin when the plants are between 18 to 30 inches tall and grazed down to 8 inches within 10 days. After grazing, the residue needs to be clipped to a minimum uniform height of 8 inches to ensure high quality forage production for the next grazing period in 3 to 4 weeks. Do not graze after a killing frost until the plants turn completely brown (7 days). If the plants are frost damaged, wait until the regrowth is at least 18 inches high before grazing again. Green chop harvesting should begin when the pearl millet is 18 inches tall and should be completed before the plants head out. Silage should be harvested when the plants are 36 to 48 inches tall or in the boot to early head stage. At this stage, moisture is usually high and the plants should be allowed to partially dry in the field before ensiling. Avoid possible nitrate poisoning by avoiding large applications of nitrogen prior to expected drought periods; do not harvest drought damaged plants within 4 days following a good rain; do not cut or graze within 7 days of a killing frost; cut at a higher stubble height if under stress since nitrates accumulate in the lower stalk. If you suspect that there are high nitrate levels in your forage or silage, have it tested by a forage testing laboratory.


 
john lindsey
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Maybe Burdock would be even better than Parsnips?

I was listening to an audio book about new green energy systems, and they were talking about american prairie grasses, with roots up to ten feet deep. of course that is where they have been growing for millions of years.

Now half of the soil is gone. but it sounds like what I need for this sandy soil. I wish some one here with knowlage of these grasses would tell me some thing about them.

and where to get bulk seed.
Big blue stem, Sundial, Lupine, Ridged golden rod,

Tall blazing star:



Ridged golden rod:
 
john lindsey
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now here is something interesting.....http://proof.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/15/digging-deep-reveals-the-intricate-world-of-roots/

 
john lindsey
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How much cold will these plants handle? it's not the coldest climate, but it is not as warm as southern US.



Jeremy Mecham wrote:For $50 you could broadcast plant pearl millet very heavily. It puts down very deep roots on minimal water. It's pretty miraculous as far as cover crops go. Along with the roots, you'll get up to 10,000 lbs of biomass that could be mowed and left in place to return nutrients to the ground. Sorghum sudangrass is a pretty similar option that would give similar results, the only difference being the roots won't go nearly as deep if you don't mow it the first time it reaches about waist high.
 
john lindsey
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Ok after a very wet spring our hay field looks like it is doing good, but the grass is doing better on the edges. I know the roots are shallow, so I gotta ask again what should I do to create deeper soil?

Maybe nothing but let it go on with out human intervention? Or maybe Burdock and Lupines? But what else would grow deep roots in hard sandy soil, in an area that gets dry after the spring? So what ever grows needs to do it early.

Parsnips may need some real soil and they probably need some heat to sprout? I have seen possibly two different kinds of dandelion in other hay fields in the area.....one came early and the other after that, or maybe it was because of the excessive rains that they just came back?

I think I have also seen this plant, but I think it was planted.

Am I correct that there is not a perennial grain available yet? Other than our hay grass.

Well vegetables like Dandelion and Burdock sounds even better.

Could I just plant the bulbs of Yacon, will it grow in the pacific northwest, not a high elevation so where do I get bulbs? Well the roots could freeze if the ground freezes.



these are from our hay feild:







 
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