The June/July issue of Growing for Market magazine has an article I wrote about buckwheat, one of our favorite summer cover crops.
Buckwheat is a fast-growing warm-season broadleaf annual that is a very useful cover crop. Its special strengths are in weed-suppression, attracting beneficial insects, improving the soil tilth (aggregate structure) with its fibrous roots, and extracting potassium, calcium and phosphorus from the soil to the benefit of following crops. Buckwheat is almost three times as good as barley in scavenging phosphorus, and more than ten times better than rye (a poor phosphorus scavenger). Buckwheat can do fairly well on poor soils, is tolerant of a range of soil pH and is an easy crop to deal with manually or with small-scale equipment. Because buckwheat is not related to any of the common food crops, it is simple to include in rotations.
There wasn’t space in the magazine to include all the great resources I found, so I’m including them here.
Resources in the article
e-Organic’s Buckwheat for Cover Cropping in Organic Farming
Virginia Association for Biological Farming Infosheet Seeders: Using Manually-operated Seeders for Precision Cover Crop Plantings by Mark Schonbeck and Ron Morse,
Cornell Buckwheat Cover Crop Handbook (thorough, but not organic) .
General Cover Crop Resources
Agricultural Sustainability Institute at University of California Davis, Cover Crop Database
USDA/ARS Cover Crop Chart. The crop “tiles” in the chart can be clicked to access more information about 46 cover crops.
NCSU Department of Horticultural Sciences Horticulture Information Leaflet 37, Summer Cover Crops,
SARE, Managing Cover Crops Profitably, the whole book is available as a free download
CEFS Organic Production: Cover Crops for Organic Farms, under Resources, Guides, Organic Production Guide:
Cornell University, Cover Crops for Vegetable Growers,