One of the things we are experimenting with this year is growing buckwheat. Buckwheat is super versatile and can be grown as a weed suppressor and cover crop or for seeds and for the bees. Buckwheat is pretty great in that it likes warm weather unlike other cover crops, like rye, and it does well in poor soil.
We sprinkled buckwheat seed in almost all of our tomato beds to grow as a weed suppressor. It worked great. However, I did not realize just how fast buckwheat grows and it overtook a few of our tomato plants. Next time I will let the tomato plants get well established before planting buckwheat in the beds.
We let them all go to seed, I just couldn’t bear cutting all those flowers that the bees were loving. When the seeds were ready, I cut them all the way to the ground. I laid the stalks with the seeds on a sheet on our tampoline to dry out for a few days. As we’re cleaning out our summer garden we are laying those stalks in the beds and letting the seeds sprout. We will turn these plants into the soil before the plants flower and them decompose before we plant our fall garden.
Here are some other things I’ve learned about growing buckwheat…
- Broadcast seeds at the rate of one cup per 100sq feet or 1 pound for 300-500 sq feet
- Keep ground moist until germination – about a week
- After germination, buckwheat does not require much water
- Can be sown all the way through late summer but frost will kill buckwheat
- In zones with long growing seasons (zones 8 and 9) you can get multiple plantings and harvests.
- If using as a cover crop, turn the plants into the soil when they are about 8″ tall
- Buckwheat grow to about 3′ tall
- Bees love the blooms, as do other beneficial insects such as lady bugs and parasitic wasps
- Can grow even in poor or acidic soil
- There doesn’t seem to be any pests that bother buckwheat
- Give buckwheat that has been turned into the soil about 2 weeks to decompose before planting your fall crop
- Turning buckwheat into the soil will help loosen up clay soil
I’m really excited about using buckwheat in the garden. Do you use is it? What tips do you have for us?
You can find all kinds of information on growing fruits and vegetables
and keeping your garden organized in The Gardening Notebook.