Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Buckwheat Experiment

It's like day 3 of my Buckwheat experiment and really there is nothing to report yet I am just getting in the groove so to speak.

Since I had planned on leaving most of my garden fallow this year I decided that planting a cover crop of some kind would be my best option. I chose Buckwheat because it covers a number of different qualities that fit my overall operation.

Besides acting as phosphorus scavenger that then releases nutrients back into the soil later it also acts as a quick growing weed suppressor. I have my doubts that it will out compete weeds such as Johnson Grass and Morning Glory though but we will see. Buckwheat will also reseed itself and regrow quickly, can be used as a forage crop for ruminants (ie Sheep!!) and is a wonderful nectar crop for bees.

My overall plan is to allow the first crop to go to seed then harvest some of that seed for later for grinding and reseeding int he future. Mowing down the first crop and then allowing the left over seeds to grow into a second crop. At the end of the entire process I will open the gate to the sheep and allow them to graze the entire garden area down in early Fall.

The questions come into play in if I even get a successful initial crop going. After tilling up the plot I simply hand broadcast the seeds (About 12 pounds of seed for approximately 1/2 acre which should have been about twice what was recommended) since I don't have any kind of planter. I then used a makeshift harrow I put together using a section of a cattle panel and a couple of metal T-posts attached to it. I tied the thing to my garden tractor and used it as a drag rather than hand raking the plot. I then gave the entire area a light watering.

It has been pretty dry here for the last two weeks and has turned hot which are not ideal conditions for the seeds to germinate. Hard to tell anything after only three days but as of this evening nothing is sprouting yet. The dryness of the plot is also causing several of the harrowed in seeds to become exposed once again too as the top soil turns to dust.

We have rain in the forecast for the next several days so I am going to wait and see what happens before going back to the drawing board and either re-seeding or artificially watering the plot.

Like I said if this works as cover crop with extra benefits it is something that fits nicely in the bee and sheep theme as well so I am hoping this experiment proves itself. With a decent crop I can collect my own seeds for replanting indefinitely too.

Just keeping my fingers crossed for a bit of rain here soon but not enough to cause a soil washout either.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!


  1. Sounds interesting, I've never eaten buckwheat so I'll be keen to see what you do with it when you harvest it. And if it does outcompete weeds then it'll be added to things I'll grow in fallow areas. Keep us posted.

    1. kev,
      makes great pancakes if you like the unique flavor. ukrainians make a sort of vegetarian type sausage with it.

  2. I like experiments I trust there will be updates.I am interested in buckwheat for cover crop.

  3. Buckwheat won't choke out the morning glory unless you have it planted densely. I planted some really thick to use as a wind barrier for a patch of the garden last year and once it got going it kept the morning glory down. Some still grew but it was pretty pathetic looking (the morning glory... not the buckwheat). I even planted it with corn, not at the same time since corn doesn't grow as fast as buckwheat, to keep weeds down.

    Gather seed as they turn brown (you'll have blooms with seeds) or wait until you get mostly seed, but they will fall off and you'll have 'volunteers' the next year. I don't really care about them popping up all over the place. Chickens love the seeds, the bees like the blooms and you can always pull the plants for the critters to eat or till it in when it is about a foot tall as a 'green' manure. I think it is a good cover crop.

    Keep us posted on your experiment! With the rains coming it will sprout, be patient. :-)

  4. PP,

    Experiments, love them.....keep us updated!

  5. PP - like the others have said - keep us updated. i really hope it works for your bees and the sheep. i'll do a rain dance for you - i'll dance for enough rain but not too much rain! much love buddy!

    your friend,

  6. It sounds like a good bee crop that has other uses, you need to get a hand mill and then you can make those pancakes.

  7. I know buckwheat is used for pancakes and some kinds of Japanese noodles. Not sure what else.


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