In The Garden…Growing Buckwheat

SchneiderPeeps - Growing Buckwheat - for a cover crop. for bees and for seed

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.

Buckwheat flowersThis is what the buckwheat looked like when the plants first started setting seeds.

buckwheat ready to harvestThis is right before we harvested the buckwheat.  As you can see, it’s pretty thick.

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? 

SchneiderPeeps - The Gardening NotebookYou can find all kinds of information on growing fruits and vegetables
and keeping your garden organized in The Gardening Notebook.

 This post is shared at Homestead Barn HopThe Backyard Farming Connection, Garden Party Tuesday,

 

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Comments

    • Angi Schneider says

      It’s been a fun experiment. We’ll continue to plant it because it grows so well here and the bees love it.

  1. says

    Awesome! I am growing buckwheat too. Do you know bees produce black honey when drinking the nectar of the buckwheat flowers? We can also get few plantings of it in zone 7b. I planted buckwheat for the third time this Summer last week and it is already 3 inch tall. I tilled the buckwheat under in the past, but this time I will try to harvest it and make buckwheat flour. I need to find information about how to process the grains so please let me know if you find anything. After I harvest the seeds I think I will let my chickens enjoy the steams and leaves this time…. Or maybe I will add it to my compost pile. We’ll see.

    • Angi Schneider says

      It’s so fun to experiment with, isn’t it? I didn’t know the honey would be black; I assumed it would be darker but not black. We don’t really have enough room to plant enough that our honey would be black but it will be interesting to see if the honey is darker this year than previously.

  2. Rae Ellis says

    I’ve done quite a bit of research on buckwheat as I’m in the process of buying a farm and want to produce buckwheat flour and buckwheat honey. I am also going to raise alpacas and will have to plant the buckwheat well away from them as it is poison to them and some other animals. (Please check to see if it is safe for your animals)
    Buckwheat honey is said to relieve nighttime cough due to upper respiratory infections (
    Honey Proves a Better Option for Childhood Cough than OTC’s (over-the-counter medications) was published in December of 2007 in the peer-reviewed Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. ).
    Buckwheat Honey is also known for being high in antioxidants. A study performed by the University of Illinois showed that the darker the honey, the higher the concentration of antioxidants. Buckwheat Honey had the same amount as a tomato! Plus, a University of California (Davis) study showed that eating approximately 4oz of Buckwheat honey a day boosts the antioxidant activity in plasma!
    Almost every part of the plant can be used. Buckwheat seeds can be ground into a naturally gluten-free flour. Buckwheat seeds can also be used in a gluten-free beer, being used as a malt similar to barley. Groats and farina are natural by-products of buckwheat flour production, and are used in instant cereals and as thickeners in gravies. Buckwheat hulls are used in the furniture industry as a natural fill for those who are allergic to feathers.

    It also It sells for around $11.00 per pound. which is a bonus at honey sales time. woot!!

    • Angi Schneider says

      Wow, I did not know that buckwheat was poisonous to some animals. That is good to know. What is farina? I’ve purchased it before but I thought it was just another name for a Malt-o-meal type hot cereal. Thanks for such great information.

  3. A says

    Do you know whether it is suitable for “chop and drop” composting? I rarely turn anything under but would be quite willing to cut off plants at ground level and let them become fertilizer in place.

  4. suz says

    I.ve read a little about buckwheat. I’ve been unable to find the seed to plant. What and where is your source of them.
    Thanks,

    suz

  5. says

    What great information! I love the aspects of attracting pollinators and suppressing weeds. That’s a win-win! Thanks for sharing this outdoor post on this week’s Maple Hill Hop!

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