Cover crops for dahlia beds

danidooJuly 12, 2010


I am wondering if anyone has ever used cover crops for there dahlia beds? We always add manure/compost mixture to our dahlia areas but we are currently just growing to many to produce enough good compost and are hoping to expand even more next year. I am doing research on cover crops but many of the ones I am finding are saying you need to spray with a herbicide than till in. We are organic so I am not interested in spraying. We are hoping to find something that we can start growing between the rows early and either till in late fall or early spring. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Nicki

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For the past 5 or 6 years, we have been planting a cover crop on our garden after we dig the tubers. Here in Oregon, there is just enough warmth in the soil in late October and early November to get the cover crop started. I do a quick, one pass till with my tractor and spread the seeds(by hand) over the soil and rake them in with a garden rake. They sprout and by Christmas it is usually 2-3 inches tall. The cover crop seed mix is sold by our local farm co-op and is not very expensive. I plant 1/2 acre for about $35- in seed cost. The mix contains: Annual ryegrass, vetch, crimson clover, austrian peas(leaves are edible in the Spring!), buckwheat(does not over winter). The cover crop grows to a height of 4-5 feet by May 1st. My wife is 5 feet tall and in a typical year some of it is taller than her. We mow it down with a riding lawn mower and immediately till the soil. Dahlias are planted right away. I am going to cut sown the cover crop at 3 feet tall next year because it was so thick this year it was hard to cut down with the mower. No spray is used to kill the cover crop and since nothing has gone to seed, it all disappears. Legumes add some nitrogen to soil and soil is full of excellent organic material. Another benefit is weed reduction as they cannot compete with cover crop in the Spring.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 1:45PM
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Poochella(7 WA)

Thanks for sharing this info, Ted. I'd like to try this. I'd really like to have all tubers up by early November, but that's a mere pipe dream here. Perhaps I'll try it on a couple beds and see how/if it germinates in December.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 1:21AM
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