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Slash for mulch or keep for cover?

 
Roberto Barbagallo
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Hi

I'm building up a garden with hugekulture beds and swales on a wild oat field and I'm not sure if I have to slash it to make mulch or compost or if is best to stand and be used as cover crop, considering I have no irrigation, here we'r in Sicily and will soon be very hot.
My idea is that as cover is working to keep the soil moisted and other grasses out of the competition, but maybe is using all the nutrients and the beds and veg will suffer?

thanks
Roby
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
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If your wild oats are anything like ours, slash them *now* before the seeds harden.  They are horrid, horrid things that will stick to your clothing then dig their way into your flesh.  They are barbed and will work their way into your clothing and your skin.  We even had one that worked it's way into the donkey's eye socket once - I don't like to think of the pain she went through when I grabbed the end just before it disappeared and pulled it out.  Here in Portugal the wild oats will grow like crazy this time of year and then dry out totally for the summer, so I don't think they will be taking any nutrients, but I still think they would be better used as mulch. 

I've also found that the soil seems to dry out more slowly under mulch than under standing grass/oats in our hot summers, and the surface of the soil doesn't form such a hard, impenetrable surface with a mulch layer on top so any rain you do get will be absorbed quicker. 

I guess that, if you have enough beds, maybe do an experiment and have some slashed and mulched and others left under the oats as a cover crop so you'll know for sure which way suits you best. 
 
Roberto Barbagallo
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Thanks for the reply and wow I didnt know they were such a pain!! yes I guess i'll just leave some patches as experiment and I'll use the rest as mulch. I guess the condition here are pretty similar to Algarve (where I've been in one of the best PC place ever! Quinta Valle de Lama) .

And what about if I slash them and then spread some summer cover crop like trifolium or sorgum? what cover crop would you use for the hot summer with almost no irrigation? the best would be a perennial summer leguminose drough tollerant
 
Burra Maluca
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psytek wrote:
what cover crop would you use for the hot summer with almost no irrigation? the best would be a perennial summer leguminose drough tollerant


When you find one, let me know!!!

What about Lupins?  We have annual ones here, and I haven't managed to get any perennial ones going.  They are very well adapted to the local climate, but I don't think they'll go *all* the way through the hot summers.  They might be a bit chunky to try and grow other things though, but they might be ok. 

I'd love to see photos of all you're experiments - any chance? 
 
Roberto Barbagallo
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Oh yeah lupins are very very used here too! I'll see if I can find some seeds and I could mix with chicory too (ok is not a legume) good perennial.

here some pics of the whole project (we'r also looking for woofers

https://picasaweb.google.com/psytek3/ItalySicilyComisoVerdeVigna#

R
 
Dan D. Lyons
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Nice photos, that looks like good fig and grape country!
 
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