We have an area on our property (about 1/3 acre) that used to be "yard" that we let grow out for many years, mostly as habitat for critters. It ended up also inviting a lot of ticks toward the house, so we started scything it several years back with the rest of the yard and using the hay as mulch for the garden. It is a mix of grasses, yarrow, plantain, dandelion, a small amount of vetch and clover, and some other "weeds" that I'm not familiar with by name. Yarrow is the predominant other plant outside of grasses (I'd say the grass is probably 30% of the cover; 30% is yarrow, and the rest round out the remainder). We also have a couple of hives in this area as well. And, we are in SE Michigan (zone 6a/5b).
We were planning on thatching this area this year and considered overseeding with a pasture mix, to improve the diversity of the plants in this space and possibly increase the nutrients that go into the garden soil. However, this is definitely outside of my own personal experiences and expertise, so I was curious what others thought, especially what might be good for overseeding for soil fertility in the garden from the hay. I thought alfalfa and more clover would be good (good bee plants, too), but am looking for info from folks who are more expert as pastures and hay qualities for garden mulch.
I would probably go with clover instead of alfalfa. It is a great legume, but also requires PH that is just right.
Tractor Supply sells a nice mixture of grass seed in a prepackage called equine north or south, the two being condusive to the northern part, or the southern part of the country. being from maine I put on the north blend of course and had years of good use of it with my grazing sheep. I might use that blend as it has cool and warm season grasses that have good nitrogen fixers.
As for the ticks, ever considerd getting ducks? They are gentle animals that LOVE ticks and do not require a "pond". A simple kid's Kiddie pool works for them. We keep ducks just for that reason; tick control! Ours patrol 1 acre and do an amazing job. They also take out frogs and toads, and even snakes, but this is maine and as such we do not have big or posinous snakes here in Maine.
From my studies the best hunters of ticks, lice and fles are guinea fowl. They will spread out in a line and thoroughly work the grasses hunting for bugs, with attention to the finest details. There acute eye sight lets them hone in on such tiny parasites, and they effectively control those parasite populations.
For hay production, as the previous poster stated, there are good perennial mixes you can buy for warm and cool season growing. Personally though, I would recomend seeding with mixed annual cover crops, in both both a warm and cool season mixes. The mixed annuals will build your soil biome underground, as the massive root development dies back annually, which means massive amounts of carbon added deep into your soil annually. The right mix of annual grasses, grains, sudograins and companion legumes can produce over 6 tons of organic matter per acer per year, and that just the dry cut matter. Its probably over 10 tons if you add in the cool If your cutting the forage for the garden, that means its most likely once per year, and probably late in the season after the warm season annuals have dropped their seed. Which means all the carbon from the cool growing annual season will go to build your soil biome, by just letting the cool weather crops drop seed before mowing or rolling the plants down onto the soil surface.
Perennials don't die back every year, so they won't add the same degree of carbon deep into the soil biome.
Check out (living web farms) youtube channel, and their video on (mixed annual cover crops). The video is about an hour and a half long, but will tell you everything you need to know. If you need help coming up with warm and cool season annual mixes for your area, just let me know.
Hope that helps!
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