Overseeding Cover Crop into existing mulch

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by David MacKenzie, Mar 18, 2016.

  1. David MacKenzie

    David MacKenzie New Member

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    For my market garden I am looking at ways to keep a constant cover of mulch or cover crop on permanent no-till raised beds in the tropics (Hilo, HI). We get 180+ inches of rain a year, pretty evenly distributed (2 rainy seasons each year, both are 6 months long...), 1400' elevation, average daily temperature is 72 degrees.

    Have 68 beds of 125 sf each, that will be run through a rotation cycle, at the end of which they will go to cover crop. All beds are mulched heavily. Because of nutrient leaching, I want to keep a mulch or cover crop on the beds at all times. Being the tropics, mulch disappears in a hurry, so it requires more that just a chop and drop of a cover crop to keep things covered. I am moving towards supplementing the cover crop mulch (flail mowed) with transported mulch of white clover grown in dedicated areas in my pasture, see if that helps. Right now, am buying in green waste mulch from the city recycling center, costs $ and never really know what I am getting...

    Wondered if anyone has any experience with broadcasting cover crop directly over mulch, then "settling" it in with a roller or fluffing it up with a rake to get it to work deeper into the mulch, thereby eliminating raking back mulch to broadcast the CC seed. Since we get so much rain, moisture is probably not a problem in germination. When I have applied straw mulch, there has been a real bloom of the grain that bursts out of the straw, so I'm figuring to let that work for me and avoid the hassle of clearing the mulch, or using some sort of tilling.


    Any thoughts/observations appreciated...
    David in Hilo
     
  2. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    hello, i have no tropical experience at all so i'm facinated by those who are
    in such areas and how they manage...

    different plants have differing germination requirements. some need warmth
    and sunlight along with the moisture and others will sprout from moisture alone.
    i think you should just give it a try and see how it goes. use a mix of seeds
    and see which take.

    as for good cover for being used as a mulch, all of the soybean relatives will
    work in your climate. as edamame and adzuki beans are some of my favorites,
    chick peas, etc.

    wood chips and thicker stemmed plants will last longer than greens. if you are
    doing chop and drop i would leave the chunks more intact because in your climate
    you want them to last longer.

    i also dislike bringing in compost from a city waste source because like you say
    you don't know what you are getting. did that once and regretted it since...
    however if you can find a food processor or some other source (tree pruning
    company) you might be much happier with the materials. we bring in wood chips
    because a lot of people are having to cut back trees from power lines here. the
    company is usually happy to drop them off for free or very low cost if they are in
    the area anyways. saves them a trip and dumping fee...
     
    Bryant RedHawk likes this.
  3. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    The larger seed varieties work best for no till into mulch planting of cover crops. All the clovers, buckwheat, alfalfa and others work like a charm when just broadcast and rolled lightly. An alternative method is to use a seed drill, just set it at the right depth and roll on.

    Like Songbird mentions, wood chips and course chopped materials will last longer in your environment, when you layer these types of materials with the greens you get a nice mulch that leaches nutrients into the soil instead of through the soil and the more layers you put down, the better it works.

    We like straw for our mulching, we then sprinkle this with coffee grounds and add another layer of straw after every spreading of coffee grounds. When I make wood chips, they are used on the fruit trees, the excess goes on garden beds where we are going to grow root vegetables the next year.
     
  4. Brian D Smith

    Brian D Smith New Member

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    David,
    Have you considered putting a high tunnel over some of the beds to reduce the nutrient leaching?
     
  5. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    I dont live in the tropics but after reading your post, was reminded of the book I read called ' Farmers of forty centuries".
    It talked about composting like you wouldnt believe which I did think was a little extreme at the time, not having experienced heavy leaching of nutrients.
    The idea of raised beds for drainage seemed wise and now after learning about hugelculture, I am wondering if this sort of thing would be of any use to you as well.
     

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