The Dirty Gardener Buckwheat Seed
Buckwheat is one of The Dirty Gardner's favorite cover crops because of both price and usability. Buckwheat is a broadleaf, herbaceous plant that flowers prolifically over a period of several weeks. The small, white flower clusters quickly develop into triangular brown seeds roughly the size of soybean seeds. Both the scientific name of buckwheat, Fagopyrum sagittatum (Gilib.), and its common name stem from the seed's appearance, which is similar to the seed of the beech tree. Like soybeans, buckwheat produces flowers in an indeterminate fashion, and flowering will often occur right up until harvest or frost. Buckwheat emerges quickly in warm soil conditions and reaches a height of 2 to 4 feet. The plant has a fairly small, shallow rooting system, and thus is not particularly drought tolerant (but it may avoid midsummer droughts if planted late). Buckwheat sometimes temporarily wilts during hot, dry afternoons. Branches form primarily in the upper canopy. Buckwheat is used most frequently in the U.S. for soil cover as a green manure crop or smother crop on gardens or small fields. As a green manure crop, buckwheat produces only modest biomass but offers rapid growth, improves soil tilth and makes phosphorous more available. Quick, aggressive growth accounts for its success as a smother crop for suppressing weeds, particularly in late summer. Buckwheat is popular among beekeepers. It produces a dark-colored honey with a distinctive flavor. An acre of buckwheat can support a hive of bees producing up to 150 pounds of honey, if prevailing weather conditions are suitable for good nectar production (reportedly, sunny days and cool nights are best). Buckwheat has long been used as a livestock and poultry feed. Several research reports indicate that buckwheat is best used in a mixed feed ration, often as no more than one-third of the total mix. Although buckwheat has often been fed to hogs, it is considered more suitable for cattle.
- This Bulk buckwheat is an excellent flowering crop cover
- Broadleaf plant which blooms prolifically over a period of several weeks
- Reaches a height of 2 to 4 feet
- Popular with beekeepers and also used as a livestock and poultry feed
- Plow under as a source of natural green manure fertilizer to make phosphate more available