Mulching in a companion veggie patch

newbiegardener_2007October 17, 2007

Hello everyone,

I'm in the process of setting up my first companion veggie patch and I'm really interested in using plants like Alfa Alfa (lucerne) and clover as a living mulch.

However what I can't seem to find in any of my books is, after I've sown the Alfa Alfa/Clover seed do I need to mulch over them while they grow and if so with what?

I live in Australia and in the short time I've had a garden I already appreciate the benefits of mulching in terms of water retention and prevention of soil erosion. It goes against the grain to have nothing on the soil while I wait for the plants to grow.

Thank you for any information

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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

The main thing to put on lucerne and clover seed is enough water to get a good strike of seed and keep it growing so it can either spread (clover) or send down long roots to get water and minerals.

Both are field/pasture crops and do well when the soil is reasonably high in humus which will hold the water while they're germinating.

Main thing thereafter is to leave them at a minimum of an inch/2-3cm when you trim them for green manure to add to the compost heap or feed the chooks or whatever.

Both are long-lasting in a pasture provided the turf is not hammered or grazed too closely. If you happen to be folding birds on the crop then don't let them open it up to show bare ground, unless you can spell the area for long enough to fully recover.

If you are wanting to use the plants for honey production and/or seed production you'll have trim back in autumn - and let the winter rains bring on the new growth.

Clover will withstand closer mowing than lucerne - as a turf plant.

Short answer - mulching will probably inhibit germination.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 5:22PM
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