A great mid-summer addition to the garden is buckwheat. There is plenty of time left in the growing season to take advantage of its many benefits and it is easy to grow. Buckwheat is a cover crop you grow to benefit your garden and the creatures that live there. It grows from seed to bloom in about 30 days and requires full sun.
Because it grows so quick it makes an excellent weed suppressor– it outgrows most weeds. Other reasons to grow; it provides habitat and food source for pollinators and other beneficial insects, it adds organic matter to the soil when turned under, and it is allopathic– meaning it deters germination of seeds following a crop which makes for excellent future weed control. Another great benefit is the stems are hollow so it is easy to turn into the soil with a shovel and it breaks down fast.
We plant buckwheat wherever we have a bed or area that is not immediately being replanted in a crop. As soon as the bed is torn down, mowed and tilled, I grab some buckwheat seed, scatter, and cover it with soil (shallow tilling or raking). Before I know it, the buckwheat has germinated and is making a beautiful canopy of vegetation and will soon be blooming.
My success with buckwheat has come as I have learned to always have buckwheat seed on hand to plant. It doesn’t always get planted, but when it does, I find myself more taken with the action going on in the buckwheat than in my flower gardens!
- Plant in full sun.
- Scatter seeds and cover with soil.
- 2-3 pounds of seeds per 1000 square feet.
- Blooms approximately 30 days from planting.
- Turn plants into soil during bloom time to prevent buckwheat from making and dropping seed.
- Remember that the allopathic effect will deter future crop and weed seeds from germinating. So follow buckwheat plantings with transplants not direct seeding of another crop.
Reap the benefits, make buckwheat a part of your garden.
Lisa Mason Ziegler is a commercial cut-flower farmer in Newport News, Virginia; she lectures and writes about organic and sustainable gardening. You can email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org , call her at 757-877-7159 or visit her website www.shoptgw.com