Cover crops in Tennessee


Joined
Jun 27, 2014
Messages
32
Reaction score
2
Hardiness Zone
7a
Hi! I tried the search, but got 0 results.

I have some Red Clover I was intending to sow as a cover crop. My garden is on a slight slope, and come next spring, the rainy season will wash some of my well-made topsoil away. I want to stop this, plus get the benefit of legumes, etc.

Next year I'm going to delay planting as a weed control measure, which means late planting everything (end of May, probably).

What's the latest I can plant the clover? I have fall veggies in right now. (Brussels, turnips, etc.) Can I oversow the fall veggies without the clover seriously competing with them?

Can I mow the clover? Should I use a mower or a scythe? When? (50% flowers?)

Will I be able to no-till seed (Earthway seeder) next year, or must I shallow till to get the clover roots out of the way?

What else do I need to know? I've read tons of literature on the net. Now I'm looking for practical advice from those who know more than I. Please spew forth advice liberally.

This is my first attempt at cover cropping. I'm in west Tennessee.


Thanks!
-Johntodd
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
10,747
Reaction score
5,035
Location
Tarpley Tx
Hardiness Zone
8b
Country
United States
Hi! I tried the search, but got 0 results.

I have some Red Clover I was intending to sow as a cover crop. My garden is on a slight slope, and come next spring, the rainy season will wash some of my well-made topsoil away. I want to stop this, plus get the benefit of legumes, etc.

Next year I'm going to delay planting as a weed control measure, which means late planting everything (end of May, probably).

What's the latest I can plant the clover? I have fall veggies in right now. (Brussels, turnips, etc.) Can I oversow the fall veggies without the clover seriously competing with them?

Can I mow the clover? Should I use a mower or a scythe? When? (50% flowers?)

Will I be able to no-till seed (Earthway seeder) next year, or must I shallow till to get the clover roots out of the way?

What else do I need to know? I've read tons of literature on the net. Now I'm looking for practical advice from those who know more than I. Please spew forth advice liberally.

This is my first attempt at cover cropping. I'm in west Tennessee.


Thanks!
-Johntodd
I don't know much about growing clovers. I tried growing white clover here on a deer lease but the soil isn't right here for clover. Try www.plantguide.org Go to grasses and scroll down to red clover
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2014
Messages
142
Reaction score
24
Location
United States
How does delayed planting work for weed control? I don't understand maybe you could explain it further for me. Thanks.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2014
Messages
32
Reaction score
2
Hardiness Zone
7a
@Chuck: Thanks!
@Carolyn: Just delaying planting to get past the "spring rush" of weeds. One must still kill the weeds that emerge. I've noticed that after early summer starts, the need to weed my garden goes down because fewer weeds emerge then. It seems to be springtime that produces the bulk of my weed problems.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2014
Messages
32
Reaction score
2
Hardiness Zone
7a
Read the info, still want more info from the "cover crop people".

Thanks!
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2014
Messages
142
Reaction score
24
Location
United States
@Chuck: Thanks!
@Carolyn: Just delaying planting to get past the "spring rush" of weeds. One must still kill the weeds that emerge. I've noticed that after early summer starts, the need to weed my garden goes down because fewer weeds emerge then. It seems to be springtime that produces the bulk of my weed problems.

I see, I am always so antsy to start I have plants waiting in my hoop house to go in the ground at the earliest opportunity. I start them in my attic under lights in February. I should try to be more patient but I can't.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
10,747
Reaction score
5,035
Location
Tarpley Tx
Hardiness Zone
8b
Country
United States
Read the info, still want more info from the "cover crop people".

Thanks!
I haven't used a cover crop on this garden for 6 years now. I might next year though. I can't grow clover here and what I always used was rye. You grow rye during the winter and from what I understand about clover a hard freeze will kill it if it isn't well established. I am pretty sure you plant clover right before the last frost. The first year I did a cover crop I didn't keep it mowed and when it came time to turn it under I had a hell of a time getting it done. So, what ever you plant keep it mowed and you should eliminate just about all of the winter weeds. You get a lot colder where you live and I don't know the date of the first expected freeze but if it were me I would sow rye seed soon so as to stop your soil erosion problem. Then in the spring mow the rye as low as possible, rake up the debris put it into your compost pile and sow your clover seeds.

To answer your specific questions you can overseed now without undue stress on your vegetables whether it be rye or anything else you plant. Mow or cut down any cover crop you plant when it starts to compete for sunlight with your vegetables or when winter weeds start to go to seed. About tilling. Clover is a deep rooted plant with a root akin to a tap root so I don't know how deep you would have to till but you will have to till because the growth habit of clover is pretty dense to begin with. But, I don't think you can sow clover seeds until spring. With rye the root system is a mass but shallow rooted and the plant and the roots die when it gets hot so you might get away without tilling at all but probably will require shallow tilling for row crops. If you plant clover in the spring along with your vegetables the clover will overpower your row crops but will not affect transplants like tomatoes, peppers etc or plants from seed like cucs and squash.
 
Joined
May 20, 2013
Messages
494
Reaction score
160
Location
Kansas
I live in Kansas, and Kansas has colder winters than you do. Red clover not only survives our winter they thrive in our winter! That means in your state you will have to kill the clover in the Spring or it will out-compete your seedlings!

I have only done cover crops twice, but both times they improved the soil. I learned that a regular mower will get the long stems twisted around the wheels and stop the wheels from rolling, but that a riding mower will handle mowing down the long stems just fine. (I did not mow it until the spring, after the cover crop was dead. It made it easier to turn under.)

Both oats and Austrian peas did well for me, but we go below zero degrees Fahrenheit every year. I do not know if either will work for you. I planted both in the Fall perhaps 6 weeks before the first expected frost.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Jun 27, 2014
Messages
32
Reaction score
2
Hardiness Zone
7a
Cool!

I planted red clover. I will be scything it in spring then tilling to kill it.

Thanks!
 

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top