No Till and Green Manure

jimla(Z6 PA)April 3, 2013

I have a 4 x 70 foot bed planted in winter rye for tomatoes. Last year I cut then rototilled the bed to incorporate the biomass. If I were to use the no till method how do I address the winter rye or any green manure/cover crop? I also have a few 4 x 8 foot raised beds with winter rye buckwheat in the summer between (spring and fall planting)Cut and used a shovel to turn over the root mass. I'd like to get rid of my tiller so how do I address the green manure.

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Raw_Nature(5 OH)


You are a smart man, getting rid of that tiller and adapting no till.. You will soon see amazing results.. I been planting winter rye and a cover crops for years with the no till method.. Works great.. I have a very similar setup as yours.. 5x70 bed and another 3x70 bed.. I sow winter rye heavily after my vegetable crips are done.. Then in spring it shoots up to a few feet in spring,preparing to go to seed.. When there's 14 hours or more of daylight (April-may) the rye starts forming seed heads(grain).. You have to cut the winter rye after it drops it's pollen, but before the seed matures.. You will see small white flakes on the immature seed heads, that's the pollen.. When you see that, it's ready to chop down.. If you chop it down before it drops pollen, the rye did not do it's job of producing offspring, and it will regrow until it does it's job.. Take your weedwacker or sycle and cut it down to the soil.. Then I cover the winter rye stems/root with compost and plant in that.. The biomass from the rye that I cut with a weedwacker, I use as mulch.. Or compost,etc.. Cover crops are one of the best things for the soil, it protects the soil, prevents erosion, and recycled nutrients from your soil.. You can't do to much better than planting a cover crop over winter... Let me know if you have any questions..

Best of luck,

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 9:07PM
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jimla(Z6 PA)

Thanks Joe. So do I cut when I see the white pollen flakes on the immature seed heads or when the pollen flakes drop but before the seed head matures? How much approximate time for pollen to drop and seedheads to mature?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 6:13PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)


From my expeience whenever you see the white pollen flakes is when the pollen is dropping, they are synonymous.. If you see pollen on an immature seed head, it's ready to cut down.. You have a fairly long spam(weeks) between the pollen and the seeds maturing.. I don't think it should be any concern.. That time frame is when cutting the rye at the right carbon/nitrogen is key.. If it gas to much nitrogen it will take long to decompose, vice versa.. Dont cut it If it's too green, but don't cut it when it's to fiberous and brown, cut it in the middle of the two.. Always after the pollen drops.. You can't go wrong by cutting it down right after you see pollen.. You could leave it for a couple weeks, but watch the seed heads carefully an make sure they aren't to hard and mature.. You could experiment, cut some rye down right as the pollen drops, a week after that, and so on.. It depends what your using the biomass for...


    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 6:25PM
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