Buckwheat

buckwheat flowering 2

Buckwheat is a fast growing, soil building 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 has a turnaround time of about 5 weeks from seeding to flowering. That’s pretty quick and with our growing season, 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.
On June 10 I broadcasted the buckwheat seed and raked it in. It was watered every day as that whole berry bed is on a timer system.

 

 

 

By July 16 it 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.

 

 

  I just used my large garden shears to cut the patch down.

 

 

 

Here is the stubble left behind which I will dig into the soil. This well help improve the soil and I will take any small amount 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.

 

  

I wanted to feed the Buckwheat off to the laying hens and they loved it.

   

 

We hung the Buckwheat in our Greenhouse until it was dried. Every day however, we would 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.

 

 

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Putting the Garden to Bed

Garlic Beds

Here we are in mid October and things are finally winding down in the garden. The Garlic is planted, those beds are mulched with old hay and the tools are getting picked up.

 

Garlic Beds

Half of the main garden has now been taken over by Garlic. If you want to learn more about how to grow and harvest Garlic, check out our 4 part series. Once the area was given a good end-of-year weeding, I raked the area into raised beds. Jaime and I added a LOT of well composted manure; she has pushed a lot of wheelbarrows! I’m so appreciative of all her help this year.

Fall Rye to Amend the Soil

Once the upper left part of the garden was cleared out and weeded, I scattered Fall Rye seed. This will become a cover crop and in turn will act as a green manure to help amend the soil. Sometimes I used Buckwheat, especially in the late summer. Buckwheat doesn’t need much time to grow, so if you have a free area and 30 days of growing time left in the season, try Buckwheat.

For mid Fall into the early Spring, I like to cover with Fall Rye. If we till the garden in the Spring, this just gets tilled in. If you want to learn more about green manure (cover cropping) click on the link.

You can see the Asparagus patch on the far left. We pick Asparagus freely here until the end of the first week in July, and then we leave it alone. The stalks grow and turn into fronds, starting to yellow in late summer. Some people cut the stalks down in Fall, but we leave ours alone and do the cutting in the Spring. Those fronds will add a bit of protection to the roots below the surface. Before the snow flies, I’ll mulch the Asparagus with old spent hay to add further protection. This will get removed in the Spring and the Asparagus will grow again.

 

Valley View

The leaves are gone now from most of the trees; Fall is slowly turning to Winter here in the Cariboo. We haven’t had snow yet; thank goodness. Hopefully that won’t happen for awhile, but you never know. Now is the time to finish outdoor homestead projects and make sure things are cleaned up and put away.

I still have to mulch the strawberry beds, but I’ll do that when I do the Asparagus. That bare bed in the front of the picture is a small potato patch; planted this Spring, we will leave these in the ground until mid-March or so. It depends on the amount of snow we get, but we are looking forward to a few fresh and delicious potatoes to enjoy in the Spring. Try this sometime; it does work. Just don’t leave them in the ground too long; if you have to, dig them up in February and then put them in your cold room.

We still have to tarp over the Greenhouse, but bit by bit, things are getting cleaned up and put away. We are already enjoying the extra rest we’re getting; sleeping in a bit is always the bonus of October.

We still have a bit of Garlic for sale; if you are looking for healthy Organic bulbs to start your own Garlic patch, you can order it here.