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Clover

 
Charlie Michaels
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I was wondering why is it that you can have a clover lawn and simply stick some vegetable seeds into it and it will work out great, but if you stick some vegetable seeds into grass, the plants will get smothered very easily.

Same thing with trees, why is it that grass inhibits some fruit trees but clover actually helps? Isn't there competition in both cases?

Also, how is the weed suppression on clover lawns?

Thanks for answering. 
 
Jordan Lowery
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think of them like people in the world.

some people( like grass) only like to hang out with the same type of people(more grass) and hate everyone else.

then you got people that are get along with just about everyone( thats clover )

weed suppression is good on our "lawn" which is mostly clover and some grass. the clover goes dormant in the winter when the grass is going good, and the grass goes dormant when the clover goes crazy in the summer.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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A lot of it is due to competition for light, nutrients, and space. The roots of most lawn grasses are shallow and invade the root zones favored by vegetables and trees, which have the majority (sometimes up to 90%) of their roots within the first 2-3 feet of soil. Grasses are generally more efficient at water extraction within their root zone with their fibrous roots, so that same few feet of soil becomes a war zone where the other plants are starved to death for water and nutrients when competing against the lawn grass. They can't compete, so generally they drop dead. Clover roots are also generally within the first 2-3 feet of topsoil, but don't extract as much water and as efficiently, and, more importantly, help conserve very large amounts of water due to their shading of the soil surface, leaf litter (mulch), and raising the humidity near and at the topsoil level. Through their leaf litter and root exploration and die off, they also release nitrogen and other nutrients into the topsoil, aerate, raise soil organic matter, etc., and that makes other plants around them, trees included, very, very happy.

Weed suppression of a thick sward of clover is great. The only thing not so good about some kinds of clover is their higher water requirements. However, this isn't an issue if you use the right kinds of clover for your area and climate.
 
                            
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which are the 'good' types of clover? meaning the ones that work with vegetables, trees etc...?
 
maikeru sumi-e
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bobzi wrote:
which are the 'good' types of clover? meaning the ones that work with vegetables, trees etc...?


That depends partly on what your local climate, temperatures, soils, and purposes are.

--If you would like perennial living mulch and ground cover and you have sufficient water and not extreme summers, white clover. White clover suffers in heat and drought. Low growing, keeps weeds down, shade tolerant (but depends on cultivar).

--If you would like to have a cover crop and high biomass production as well as animal feed, red clover. However, it grows pretty tall so may shade out many vegetables. It has strong, thick roots as well, excellent for building soil.

--If you would like something drought and heat tolerant, subclover is good, because of its deep taproot. In my area, subclover is most adaptable and thrives, even with the cold winters. It reseeds itself every year reliably, thus becoming somewhat "perennial" in a sense. Biomass production is not as much as the other two clovers. I think this one is best for desert and arid areas like my own.

--There are more clovers like crimson clover, berseem clover, Egyptian clover, etc. but I have no experience with them yet.
 
                            
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thanks for the info
will be moving to sub tropical area at the end of the year
not at all familiar with that area as coming from cold
 
George Lee
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I've had great success with crimson clover as a living mulch.. In a garden of mine, I've taken a hoe and sliced furrows to plant in amongst the clover patches.. The crimson does grow tall and lush, so I only plant vegetable seedlings that are established with true leaves and several inches tall, so they aren't outdone.. Broccoli has done very well for me like this.
 
                                              
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Theres another factor here as well likely. Many types of grasses will release chemicals that inhibit seed germination of other plants. Some seeds are slightly less susceptible or can work in before the grass fully takes over its not 100 percent or anything. If this wasn't true lawns wouldn't really work as they do now. Plants other then grasses do this as well I believe, but its very common with grasses. All the other things people mentioned play factors as well, but this might be one of them.
 
                                              
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I just can't believe how many people out there refer to clover as a "weed".  I was going to use a bed of crimson clover as a nitrogen fixer this year, but it's so pretty that I just left it alone, and it attracted so many honey bees! Here's a video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfRDfeSy3uQ
 
John Polk
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I've used the crimson clover as a winter cover.  I hated tilling it under in the spring.
 
                                              
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John Polk wrote:
I've used the crimson clover as a winter cover.  I hated tilling it under in the spring.



Do you live in a warmer climate?  Here in upstate New York, I am not sure it will survive the winter.
 
Ken Peavey
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Clover is a legume, it will fix nitrogen, grass will consume it.  A field with lots of clover will be far more fertile than one with just grass.  It makes a fine fodder crop for livestock.  While winter will kill it off, the plant produces ample seed which will spring back up in the spring.

I've been checking my field, cant find a speck of clover.  I'll be picking up some clover seed as soon as I get into town.  I've been reading up on clover a bit lately.  I'm in the midst of a drought, need something that will be able to thrive.  Clover fits the bill.  It needs water for germination, but once established, the plants are drought tolerant. 

Clover flowers readily,  the bees around here can use all the help they can get.  Clover honey, anyone? 

Clover is edible for humans, raw or boiled.  I've not tried it, but give me time.  Anyone tried it?

As a green amendment to compost, clover is high on the list.  See Helen Atthow at BioDesign Farm.
 
John Polk
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Warmer climate, yes.  Seattle is zone 8, and seldom drops below the teens.  Our growing here is mostly limited due to lack of sun/warmth.  Around here, people begin complaining when it gets over 80 degrees (F).  Even though we are zone 8, most people will not bother with citrus, as we do not have the heat it needs in summer.  Winter will not kill a mature tree, but summer will not grow it.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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LivingWind,  You and I are in roughly the same growing climate:

1.  Does the clover form a dense mat?  I planted some dutch white and it was next to impossible to cut through it to the soil.

2.  I want to plant clover (again) and rye in my garden paths for the winter - do you think the crimson would tolerate being trampled?  I know the dutch would but I like the crimson better.
 
Dave Bennett
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I planted Dutch White Clover around the perimeter own the lawn in my front yard about 6" wide 3 years ago.  Now it is growing all over the front yard but if it is over powering the bluegrass it is doing it slowly.  The rest of my yard is Dandelions, English and Broad Leaf Plantain because I encourage that to grow for my rabbits.  I also chose white clover for my rabbits.
 
                                              
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South Carolina wrote:
I want to plant clover (again) and rye in my garden paths for the winter - do you think the crimson would tolerate being trampled?   I know the dutch would but I like the crimson better.


The crimson clover has to grow from about 12" - 18" in order to flower, based on my observation.  The leaves and stems are rather delicate compared to the dutch white, so I don't think it would survive being walked on.  I'd love to save enough seeds to make it a border crop around the whole yard though.
 
Ken Peavey
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I broadcast a mix of clover seed yesterday over an area about 20 feet across.  I put the sprinkler on the area, walked away.

The stuff is already sprouting, and in no small manner.    Roots are making it into the soil, with a typical length of 1/4".  That gets a WOW.
 
Dave Bennett
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I chose white clover because there are lots of kids in the neighborhood running through my front yard.  I still let it grow as tall as I can get it to grow and then collect it for my rabbits.  
 
Raine Bradford
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Ken Peavey wrote:I broadcast a mix of clover seed yesterday over an area about 20 feet across.  I put the sprinkler on the area, walked away.

The stuff is already sprouting, and in no small manner.    Roots are making it into the soil, with a typical length of 1/4".  That gets a WOW.


Ken, how did your clover do last summer? Did you broadcast it over bare soil, or mix it in with the grass that didn't have any clover in it? What kinds did you use?

I want to get some clover going here on my farm this spring, and have been trying to figure this out. I have a 3 acre pasture that is some sort of straight-up grass, no clover. I am thinking ahead to getting a cow and want to improve the pasture first. I don't have a tractor anymore, and abandoned the whole idea of tilling once I discovered permaculture. So is it possible to add other types of nitrogen fixing plants into an established pasture without tilling?

I also want to come up with a good mixture of seed (nitrogen fixers, beneficial insect attractors, nutrient accumulators, etc) to sow around fruit trees when I plant them (sepp holzer- style). I am thinking that a perennial clover would be an excellent ingredient, but will it out-compete the other seeds? I have already ordered some crimson clover, just because I like it...got to figure out how to use it now.
 
Ken Peavey
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FAIL...It totally dried up.
A mix of red and white clover. I have this job that takes me out of town. Leaving a sprinkler running for days at a time is not practical. It is difficult to get things established. I found a fine patch of clover off site and will grab up some chunks to transplant.

 
Raine Bradford
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Bummer!!! Well, maybe transplanting a clump will get some started. I would imagine that once you get some going it wouldn't require any attention.
 
Ken Peavey
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That's what I'm hoping for. I have a house in town, the soil is the same. It has white clover all over. Out here in the boonies it is said to attract deer. Even if I did not fill my freezer, my little bull would get some benefit.
 
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