Cover crops by the Bay

patmonk(10a: Sunset17)November 14, 2011

Another disappointing tomato season here in sunny San Francisco, 2 years in a row. Think I'm gonna give the dirt a rest until spring. Any recommendations on low maintenance seedings that would give some color, improve soil, attract bees/butterflies etc. Edibles a plus but not necessary. I'm in Noe Valley, my planting spaces are boxes on top of concrete slab, approx 12-18" deep. Thanks.

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Peaceful Valley Farm supply has various cover crop mixes, and they will ship smaller quantities for small area's. They list all the seed types in the mixes and what conditions they are for. If nothing else it will give you some ideas. They have a fine website...


    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 1:02PM
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patmonk(10a: Sunset17)

Chad. Thanks for reply. I actually just spent some time on this site, you're correct, it is one of the best I've found. Gonna try PVFS soil builder mix in larger beds and a little Crimson clover in small ones.
Occupy your winter dreaming of better tomato weather next year. Digging out some old fried green tomato recipes!!!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 2:11PM
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Fava beans will get you edibles in March or April and some pretty cool looking plants until then. My fava bean- panchetta- spaghetti is out of this world. Orchard Supply Hardware has seeds.
Any of the vetches are outstanding as a cover crop for tomatoes. Around March cut down the vetch and put it under the soil. In April plant your tomato starts right into it.
Here's favas ready to harvest:

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 3:24PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Why not topdress with a good soil amendment with manure or your own compost, and plant winter season veggies? You're likely to get better returns with leaf or root crops in winter than struggling with summer tomatoes. I planted carrots, lettuce, onions, cauliflower, broccoli and spinach last month in newly built raised beds for my sister's garden down the peninsula, where they even had a poor tomato crop last summer, but finally did get some by late September. On the other hand, another client's raised veggie beds still have abundant cherry and Roma tomatoes in Alameda, but were also very late to start fruiting.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 12:41AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

The Pajaro valley, from Watsonville to Moss Landing has a climate very close to the SF bay area, and has become a winter vegetable growing area. The farmers can be seen spreading chicken manure over the fields to provide a little HEAT to get the crops going in the cool weather. Al

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 8:58AM
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I have only a tiny patch of sun. I grow peas and favas in the winter and tomatoes and basil in the summer. If you want to rest the soil in the summer, plant buckwheat (not kasha!) in the summer. If you want really amazing soil, pile up a big mound of garden refuse, hedge trimmings and the like and top it with a thin layer of dirt, then buckwheat and another thin layer of dirt. You have to keep it watered, but in 60 days or so, you will have some gorgeous, fibrous, loamy, humusy stuff. Buckwheat roots are the bomb!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 9:52PM
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patmonk(10a: Sunset17)


    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 2:48PM
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