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Buckwheat is a very fast growing grain. It has many different uses – you can harvest the grain, thresh it and then mill it.
Turn it into some delicious buckwheat pancakes. Or feed it off to your livestock; poultry loves buckwheat.
You can use it as a green manure in your garden beds, because it is great for aerating your soil. Buckwheat is a wonderful soil builder!
And we need to build our soil – naturally all we have is clay. Here’s how to improve clay soil, if you have it.
Use Buckwheat to Improve your Garden Soil
Buckwheat has a turnaround time of about 5 weeks from seeding to flowering. That’s pretty quick and with our growing season, Buckwheat works very well for us.
We should be able to get 2 successive seedings of Buckwheat in the same area during the warmer months.
If you live in a warmer climate than Zone 3 in BC, you should be able to get 3 harvests a year.
I first planted Buckwheat in part of our Berry Bed, which had become overrun with weeds. In the early Spring, after pulling as many of the weeds that I could, we had a trailer load of horse manure spread over the bed.
Then I put my hens in there on a daily basis to start working through the manure with their powerful feet. Within a week they had it all broken down and it was nice and fluffy.
Want to read about how our chickens work everyday to earn their keep? There are no free lunches at our place!
By July 16 the Buckwheat looked like this. See how it can shade out the weeds?
And by July 31 it looked like this. Beautiful white nodding flowers covered the whole Buckwheat patch. This is when it should be harvested.
It looked so pretty, it was hard to think about cutting it down. But, it had to be done.
Cutting the Buckwheat
Here is the stubble left behind which I will dig into the soil. This will help improve the soil and I will take any small improvement I can get.
If I was using the Buckwheat only as a green manure, I would cut it down and dig it all into the garden bed. But for this time, I had other plans.
I wanted to feed the Buckwheat off to the laying hens and they loved it. They gobbled it right up!
We hung the Buckwheat in our Greenhouse until it was dried. Every day, we just grab a bundle and throw it in for the laying hens.
If you plant early Peas and don’t have anything in mind for that space after the Peas are done, consider planting some Buckwheat.
Five weeks from start to finish and it smothers all the weeds due to the nice big canopy that the leaves of the Buckwheat provides.
Now we regularly grow Buckwheat any place we can. What began as a garden experiment has turned out to be an ongoing part of our plan to continually be building up our soil.
We also grow Fall Rye – I have been using this as a soil amendment for over twenty years. It works great; we use it here at the end of the season.
We never like to see bare soil in the garden, as we have worked so hard to build it up from the clay it once was.
So, when I harvest the last of a certain veggie and I know nothing else can get planted and harvested before Winter sets in, I sow Fall Rye.
Here’s just how we work with Fall Rye as a green manure here.
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