Talk to me about buckwheat...

Lisa_H(7)January 18, 2014

Last year we had a discussion about using buckwheat as a cover crop, but also a great plant for beneficials: butterflies, bees, etc. I tried to search to find it, but I couldn't find the conversation. I had forgotten about it, but as I was searching through my emails for something else, I ran across an email I sent to Bon talking about wanting to order buckwheat.

SO! I did, it is on its way to me. How soon can I sow it? I recall it can be sown multiple times in a season, right? I have an area that needs to be brought into submission. It is just overrun with bad planning and weeds. I'm hoping to use that area. It does have some shade. Is that a problem?

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Buckwheat grows almost anywhere. You can sow it once all danger of frost is past. While it will sprout in soil temperatures as low as 45 degrees, it has very low tolerance for cold conditions so treat it like any other warm-season crop. It is not frost tolerant. It will tolerate part-shade but might not flower as well as it normally flowers in full sun. It does prefer well-drained soil (but does fine for me in lightly-amended clay). It grows well in low-fertility soils, so you don't have to amend or improve the soil where you intend to plant it....it is the type of green manure crop or compost crop you plant to improve the bad soil in the first place.

With buckwheat, you get rapid spreading growth, which is one reason it is so good at smothering out weeds. It can take it from maybe 4-6 week to bloom. (Bees and other pollinators and beneficial insects love it!) If you don't want for the flowers to go to seed and perpetuate the buckwheat, cut them off within just a few days after the time the blooms first appear. The kind of extreme heat we have here in Oklahoma often will cause the flowers to blast (deteriorate and fall off the plant before they can form seeds). You can follow one crop of buckwheat with another in the same spot, merely cutting back the aging/dying crop and reseeding the area, or to really smother out a bad case of weeds...sow buckwheat in the warm season--maybe 2 to 4 rounds of it depending on how early the last frost is. Then, in fall, sow winter rye grass seed, or a vetch/rye or vetch/clover/rye combination in the same spot . They will sprout and grow and suppress winter weeds. Then, the following spring, cut them down low to the soil and sow buckwheat again or completely remove them (you can rototill them into the soil or remove the spent plants and put them on your compost pile) and plant whatever you want there.

Because buckwheat is so fast growing, it is great to sow after early cool-season plants have died back. Sometimes I like to use it as a follow-on planting after the poppies and larkspur have died back, especially when they die back relatively early in the year.

While it will grow in almost any soil, it definitely seems to prefer more well-draining, lighter soils. Still, it tolerates what I consider pretty awful clay here at our place.

People who are allergic to bees never should plant buckwheat anywhere close to their home because bees absolutely love it.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 12:15PM
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Lisa_H(7)

Thank you Dawn!!! I'm looking forward to trying this out!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 9:57PM
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p_mac(7)

Where's the "like" button? haha!

Lisa - please keep us posted. I'm thinking I may need to consider this in some places out here in my little corner of the world. Watching and waiting.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 12:26AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Lisa, You're welcome. I love Buckwheat. I buy its seed by the pound!

P-Mac, Hey Earth Sister! I hope all is going well, particularly with the new grandbaby!

Dawn

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 2:14AM
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chickencoupe

Thank you!! By studying other experts I determined buckwheat the best cover crop to help broadening my planting areas. Without experience i really didn't know when to begin planting vetch (for the bunnies, too).

Your suggestions coupled with what I read by other experts makes this method SUPERB for my needs. Buckwheat - hands down - is seemingly the best all-purpose cover-crop manure. I look forward to testing this out.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 1:16PM
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pistol(z6okla)

Interesting thread. Iv'e always wondered if it would grow in our hot climate. Where is the best seed source?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 10:41AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I got a pound from Sandhill Preservation Center. They are a little slow getting your order to you, but you may have time since buckwheat likes heat. I have never planted it before. I ordered it because of this forum. I am often tempted by enablers here.

Here is a link that might be useful: it is with the chicken treats so look around

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 11:49AM
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redclay4evr

TLC Garden Center and Famers Grain in Edmond both have buckwheat. I have used buckwheat in the garden with great success. I am currently doing a no till with a mix of Rye and Dutch White Clover and I throw in Buckwheat wherever I can. It is quick to grow and flower, five weeks, after flowering I have cut and bagged it with the mower and thrown it in the composter. It also makes a great nurse crop for rye in the fall, meaning it gets up quick and shelters the rye until the first frost. Beware if you are in the country, deer love buckwheat!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 10:08AM
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Lisa_H(7)

I ordered a lb from Johnny's Seeds. Cost was 5.45.. but the shipping was 4.00. I didn't realize I could get it locally...Thanks,

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:39PM
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chickencoupe

Stillwater Milling just ordered buckwheat. Minimum 50 lb bags at $44.00 each. I only need one, but he ordered three more since people ask. They'll be unloaded and ready by Friday.

bon

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 7:53PM
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kawliga

Found some at a local feed store in Harrah. It was about $2 per pound and we bought all he had. Long time lurker....just signed up. You guys talked me into this buckwheat thing!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 9:39PM
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chickencoupe

Welcome aboard the buckwheat train. Nice to meet ya, kawliga!

bon

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 4:56AM
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susanlynne1948(7a-OKC)

Lisa, Buckwheat is also a host plant for the Grey Hairstreak! Have fun with it!

Susan

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 11:08AM
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Lisa_H(7)

LOL, Helen...all these forums tempt me into trying new things! Susan, yes, I wanted to try it for the butterflies. That's great it is the host plant for the Grey Hairstreak. I'm still working on enlarging my host plant inventory!

Welcome Kawliga!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 4:11PM
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soonergrandmom

Susan, Where have you been? I was thinking about you just last week.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 8:05PM
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susanlynne1948(7a-OKC)

Carol, still around. Moved in with my DD last June and have gardened there a bit. Brought my tomatos, a pepper, and several butterfly and hummer plants with me. Updated an existing bed in the front of the house, dug two new ones. But, I am not sure I'll be doing much this summer. I'd like to plant a few tomatos, like Black Cherry and SunGold, but funds are so limited I doubt I'll be able to order them, so will just go with seeds I already have. We didn't get too many tomatos last year, but the ones we did were superb, I had better luck with butterflies - lots of Black Swallowtails, Giant Swallowtails, Gulf Frits and tons of Sulphurs of various species.

We are plugging along. I think Jess is finally pulling out of her health issues and feeling better. The kids are growing fast. Kenna is 12 yo, and Charlotte will be 4 yo in June. We won't say what Nanny's age is, lol! How are you and hubby?

Susan

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 6:43PM
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