Crimson Clover Cover Crop

The next few days of sunshine will allow us to do some more cover cropping on the farm. Many of our veggie harvests are coming in late this year, and I was worried that the ground would be too wet to plant the cover crop into. We can always just spread the seed on top of the ground and hope for the best, but a well prepared field with a nice clean seed bed always produces a better stand in the spring.

This year we’re planting crimson clover¬†in the fields we’ll use first next spring. It germinates quickly this time of year and protects the soil from erosion during the winter. In the spring it grows to about 3′ tall and produces a gorgeous stand of red flowers mid-May which attract beneficial insects. Since it is a legume, the roots will fix nitrogen and a good stand of clover can contribute up to 150lbs of nitrogen per acre when it is tilled in. We buy seed directly from our friends at Praying Mantis Farm in Canby which is a nice local option for larger amounts – 50lb min. For smaller quantities of seed check with Naomi’s or Portland Nursery. Don’t confuse crimson clover with red clover. The latter has runners and can be hard to kill in the spring when it is time to turn it in and start planting.