Friday, July 10, 2009

Demo Garden Blooms!

The Demonstration garden has really blossomed this week. The bush beans, Russet potatoes, and Acorn squash are covered in pretty blooms. The tomatoes and peppers are beginning to produce small fruits and the Kentucky Wonder Pole beans have reached the top of their trellis.

This week we harvested some Dill, Basil, and the remainder of the Cherry Belle radishes. I added some compost to the soil and planted 4 head lettuce in their place.

There are barely any weeds to be seen in the garden now, and no insect pests. The eggplants look better than any I have ever grown, not a flea beetle in sight. Their foliage is a beautiful purple and green.

The buckwheat is looking nice as well. It is anywhere from 3-7 inches tall now. I know a farmer that grows buckwheat, and he recommends cutting buckwheat when it is about 7 inches tall, and eating it in your salad. Today I tried eating some plain, and it was pretty good. I am excited to try some in my salad!

While you can eat buckwheat plants when they are young and tender in salad, or harvest their seeds and make flour out of them, we did not plant the buckwheat as a food crop. We planted Buckwheat as a green manure crop.

A green manure is a crop that is grown during the summer months
and plowed back into the soil while still green or right after it flowers. The purpose of doing this is to improve the soil quality in your garden or field. They can help retain water, loosen and aerate the soil (helps to suppress weeds that thrive in highly compacted soil), prevent weeds from growing and seeding, provide food for beneficial insects, and help reduce plant diseases and pests. When the crop is tilled back into the soil it releases nutrients as it breaks down and improves the tilth (fluffiness) of the soil.

Many plants that are used as green manures are legumes, which make them useful for fixing nitrogen in the soil. Some plants also help replenish Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium, and Sulfur in the soil as they decompose.

For more information on the benefits and limitations of green manures visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service for an overview of cover crops and green manures. You can also visit for a list of green manure crops, as well as information on when to plant and turn them under.


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