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soil building with buckwheat

 
paul wheaton
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Mekka Pakanohida
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checking...  I got a year of photos to go through.
 
Jordan Lowery
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no photos but i got buckwheat growing in my forest garden for this purpose. along with many other soil building plants of course.
 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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I use it as well, I will have photos in a few months. My pest problems are minimal with buckwheat, as soon as the buckwheat goes away, pest problems increase.
 
                          
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Location: Benton, Maine
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I experimented with buckwheat last year as part of a rotation. As you may observe from the picture it can grow quite dense. It’s by far the best weed suppresser I’ve come across. This is not necessarily a good thing if you try to follow up with other plants (I tried undersowing with clovers and rye later in the summer to no avail).

The soil is heavy and drains poorly. That did not seem to stop the buckwheat.

The first picture was taken about 5 weeks after sowing (sometime around the end of June). The second picture was taken about 2 months after sowing (mid- July). One benefit is the constant supply of flowers/seeds. I can’t remember NOT observing bees humming around the patch… makes for a nice multipurpose insectary IMO.






 
                    
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Bee's do love it, it provides one of the highest honey yields per acre. I've read that BW flowers are only open in the morning, and that bees who work it become cross in the afternoon. Lovely dark honey that has a nice robust flavor, very high in anti-oxidants.
 
John Polk
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I plan to grow a lot of cover crops when I start up.  Buckwheat is high on my list.  BW will give 3 to 4 crops per year, depending on your climate.  As one of the fastest growing cover crops, it is often a nurse crop, or planted a month before the cash crop will be pulled.  Many just mow it 30 days after seeding.

If any body wants a free copy of Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education's (SARE) great cover crop book "Managing Cover Crops Profitably" 3rd Ed go here:

http://www.sare.org/publications/covercrops/index.shtml

You can browse it there, or at the bottom of the left navigation box is a button to "Printable Copy", which will load a PDF version for you.  Great resource book.
 
                            
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Location: Colorado
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When we needed to expand our backyard garden space, I used buckwheat to break up some highly compacted soil under a piece of little used lawn area.  After flowering, I loved going outside and watching the bees going nuts over the stuff!  There was some clover mixed in during seeding, but it never stood a chance...the buckwheat completely dominated.  In addition to breaking up the soil and pleasing the bees, it's a dynamic accumulator and made a great mulch for overwintering the beds.  The next spring I had earthworms galore.  ...very satisfied with BW!
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  I only tried one variety so far, but buckwheat was very un impressive in my particular soil. which is a heavy clay in this case with 4-5 inches of a better soil on top. im going to try some in the same spot this year, from seed from the best plants and see if it does any better.
 
chip sanft
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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I know buckwheat is a great cover crop, but I wonder: Has anybody been able to get food / fodder from small-scale plantings?
 
                                              
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chip sanft wrote:
I know buckwheat is a great cover crop, but I wonder: Has anybody been able to get food / fodder from small-scale plantings?


I know someone who grew it in oregon well enough. Growing it was easy enough as i understand. It was hard to process for food though compared to the oats he also grew... thats all the details Ive got though.... Also it isnt very productive compared to many other things.
 
George Lee
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Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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Buckwheat pancakes with buckwheat honey is my absolute favorite thing come morning time..
Buckwheat has a feed value similar to oats. Folks around here feed it their hogs. Mix it with other grains as buckwheat has a high rutin content and may give your livestock rashes..
I've always read that a good buckwheat crop will improve soil tilth and makes phosphorous more available as a soil nutrient, possibly through root-associated mycorrhizae.


 
rose macaskie
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I hav eloooked it up and found that it does not like frost so it has to be planted late and it does not like heat and drought either, so that makes a two mounth growing period here in spain on my mountain top, still it is said to grow very fast . I grew some last year a very small patch and it did just about manage the drought but it certainly was not flourishing. agri rose macaskie.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Jonathan Byron wrote:
Bee's do love it, it provides one of the highest honey yields per acre. I've read that BW flowers are only open in the morning, and that bees who work it become cross in the afternoon.


Maybe some borage would help. You might have to give it a head start vs. the buckwheat.
 
George Lee
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
Maybe some borage would help. You might have to give it a head start vs. the buckwheat.


A buckwheat, borage, vetch, crimson clover would be an amazing soil build combo.. Just combine the 4 and broadcast it.. If you begin to keep bees you'll have a super sweet combination of clover and buckwheat honey...and some serious soil aeration and better quality soon after..
 
Melba Corbett
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I've grown a small patch of buckwheat and gathered the ripe seeds (daily), and ground into flour and made buckwheat pasta (lasagna noodles), and mixed with other flour to make waffles or pancakes.  Very good!  Buckwheat is strong tasting, but so good for you.  It is not actually a grain at all, so no gluten for those who are sensitive to gluten.  Don't remember the variety, but it was without hull so did not need to thresh, just merely throw it in the wheat grinder and grind it.  Very easy that way.

 
Charles Kelm
Posts: 170
Location: Western Washington (Zone 7B - temperate maritime)
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If you think of the variety Red Cloud, do let us know.
 
ellen rosner
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Living wind,
is the picture in yr post of buckwheat?
I searched images online and found many different images, none looked like the one you have.
Whatever your pic is of, it grows abundantly in the abandonned plot that I am turning into an herb garden. I've been admiring it.

And questions about how to get the soil benefit of buckwheat-
do you grow it, then mow it, then turn it into the soil?
Pull it up after it flowers?
How long til you plant another crop where the buckwheat grew?

I love that it attract bees, that is one of the purposes of my herb garden.

Thanks in advance.  I am learning so much here!

ellen
 
ellen rosner
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LivingWind wrote:
A buckwheat, borage, vetch, crimson clover would be an amazing soil build combo.. Just combine the 4 and broadcast it.. If you begin to keep bees you'll have a super sweet combination of clover and buckwheat honey...and some serious soil aeration and better quality soon after..


I have been wary of vetch since someone told me it spreads and is impossible to get rid of-
was that a problem for you?
 
                            
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its not mine, but ist picture from my region (near sarajevo, bosnia). people start to grow it again and i will do for sure. i realy like it, my family use to grow it for hundreads of years....
 
Paula Edwards
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Seed companies here only list buckwheat, without specification. You can import it but it must be dusted with some chemical and I doubt that any seed company woudl do this. Is red cloud the only hull less variety? How much did you harvest?
Is the seed sown in spring? Or can you sow a quick late summer crop?
 
                            
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i have no idea about varieties, i only know theres few for sure, since i buy realy different seeds, sometimes red, sometimes green....
biggest issue with buchwheat is harvest. since its not grain (poaceae family), it has real flower, and those give seed in different times. so you need to harvest more than once. or if you harvest only once you loose lot of yield.
its sown in spring yes, now you can do but only as green fertilizer, there will be no time for seed....
 
Paula Edwards
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If there is an unhulled variety than that is good for home gardeners as you don't have to thresh it, but the birds will like that too.
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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I grow a lot of buckwheat for soil building.  I broadcast (apx 15 seeds per foot) along with a clover, rye and hairy vetch mix for a spring manure crop and as a part of my rotation during the summer for beds that are struggling (I started with 7.9 ph and 1% organic matter).  I got one of my beds started very early and used the fast seeding buckwheat to seed some other beds, it really goes to seed quickly.  The pictures above seemed very dense compared to my planting but I'm also growing other crops with it so that probably explains that.  As far as when to plant, I'd say you're safe 45 days to frost, I've gotten seed yield in 3 weeks before.  The bees love it, it bio-accumulates, loosens my heavy clay (well drained with soak aways but still wet) and it makes great mulch for the rye and clover post frost.  I'm also using it around my fruit trees for nutrient acquisition/living mulch since it gathers nutrients on a deeper soil depth than the fruit trees.  In the picture you can see that this bed self re-seeded after I chopped it all down.  This particular bed produced three generations of buckwheat this summer with no fertilizer aside from one compost tea bath.  Hands down makes a great compost crop, green manure crop and straight up soil builder, its also really nice to have another non-legume soil builder to adapt with my rotation.
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Tim Flaus
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Location: Moss Vale, Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia
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A couple of questions to those using buckwheat. Will it produce straw that can be cut and stored for a period of time for use as a mulch? And is it good chook fodder?

Cheers

Tim
 
John Polk
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I have seen buckwheat used mainly as a chop & drop green manure, but would imagine the straw would also serve as mulch.

Buckwheat is somewhat hard to thresh, but chooks are experts at threshing.  Entertain them, and make them work for their chow!  Buckwheat has about 30% more protein than corn, but only about 90% of the calories (energy).
 
Eric Thompson
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My chooks never seem to really dig into piles of buckwheat stalks like they do wheat, rice, or barley -- but they seem to pick it clean over 3-4 days (which is probably a better rate anyways..)  Buckwheat is the easist of all to gather up an armload of dry stalks and dump over the fence!
The stalks of mine usually rot more than dry, so I don't get a very good straw bed - might be better in a drier climate



 
John Polk
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The stalks do break down quickly in the field...that, plus the rapid growth is what makes them so popular as green manure.  I knew a guy who had free seeds...he would sow, then 3-4 weeks later, mow, and seed again...got 6 crops in between last/first frost!  The next year, he was bragging about how rich his soil was.

Maybe if you throw the straw on a pallet in the dry barn, it may work well for you.
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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I've never had the patience to leave the buckwheat long enough to gather straw nor have I planted it thick enough to justify trying.  I always sow it with clover, alfalfa or rye depending on rotation location.  I'm tempted to try though because the little straws are quite hollow and nice, should make a fluffy straw if a critical mass was reached.  I just can't tell you how much improvement I've seen because of the buckwheat.  In response to growing many crops in one season, this is entirely understandable since it grows and goes to seed so fast.  Instead of having a free outside resource for buckwheat seed I have a free internal resource, the last crop planted!  I just browse through grabbing dried seed from the existing stand until I've filled a shoe box and then chop down the existing crop and leave it where it falls.  The leftover seed that I wasn't attentive enough to get is enough to reseed that bed and the shoebox takes care of two or three more beds for new crops.  I've been working on one particularly drained bed that way and I think I got three or four crops of buckwheat there this summer, could have done more if I had set out to do so intentionally.  Although I have added straw to the bed, it didn't need it.  The soil went from hard pan that had seen 50 years of chemical agriculture/tilling, to dark loamy goodness in one season.  I'm not going to rush the bed but that is progress I'm proud of!
 
Tim Flaus
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Location: Moss Vale, Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia
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Seems buckwheat is another of our permaculture standards, along with comfrey and tagasaste.

How do people rate it as a chop and drop mulch? What I'm after is a system that allows me to grow a mulch (we have hot dry winds in summer) that can then be cut and used around my annual vegetables to both enrich the soil but more importantly to protect from evaporation. At the moment I buy in straw to mulch with, but of course I would rather produce what I need on site.

Ta
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Buckwheat is great but I'm not sure it will fulfill your need for mulch/straw.  Personally I'm growing widgeon wheat, triticale and rye for the straw.  I'm trying to wean myself off the purchased bale as well
 
Colin Thomas
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Location: Castlegar, B.C. Zone 6a-6b
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Here is some pictures of mine from last summer. I did buckwheat followed by hairy vetch and fall rye. The year I did buckwheat again and a rye winter pea mix. My soil is so much better. It is like a sponge cake now lol.

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.496544235608.316030.747135608&type=1&l=730c0646c6
 
George Lee
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ellen rosner wrote:
Living wind,
is the picture in yr post of buckwheat?
I searched images online and found many different images, none looked like the one you have.
Whatever your pic is of, it grows abundantly in the abandonned plot that I am turning into an herb garden. I've been admiring it.

And questions about how to get the soil benefit of buckwheat-
do you grow it, then mow it, then turn it into the soil?
Pull it up after it flowers?
How long til you plant another crop where the buckwheat grew?

I love that it attract bees, that is one of the purposes of my herb garden.

Thanks in advance.  I am learning so much here!

ellen


The soil was decent to begin with. Clay/Sand mix. Buckwheat broke up and brought nutrients to the rootzone for the next plants. I planted peas following one harvest of buckwheat.

Vetch can get out of hand, but I've been able to control it by planting small and dense in key troubled areas. They're all great! Plant accordingly to your nutrient needs.
 
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