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Compost Crops


Compost Crops are easy to grow. They feed your soil when you are not using your garden.
Key: N - builds or fixes Nitrogen, OM - Organic Matter, P - accumulates Phosphorous 

ORGANIC MATTER & COVER CROPS
These crops bring minerals to the surface and most are fast growing.
BLANDO BROOM GRASS -Erosion control, drought tolerant
FODDER RADISH - Deep tap root
MUSTARD, Ag. - Plant in poor soil.
SUNN HEMP - Deep tap root. N
SUDAN GRASS - Heat-loving, weed-choking cover crop.

SHOWY FLOWERS
PHACELIA - Blue flowers, good ground cover, attracts beneficial insects.
CROWNVETCH - Conditions soil, holds moisture. N
PURPLE VETCH - Beautiful purple flowers, vigorous growth, smothers winter weeds. N
WOOLY VETCH - Medium fast growing in poor soil, heat/drought tolerant. N

CLOVERS
CRIMSON - Red flowers, fast growing, long roots. N
NITRO PERSION - Purple flowers, erosion control, forage. N
STRAWBERRY/O’CONNORS LEGUME - Red flowers, dense mat, ground cover N

FORAGE
ALFALFA - Deep rooted. N
PEA, Austrian Field - Plant with oats. N

GRAINS
BARLEY- Fast growing, straw.
BUCKWHEAT - Breaks up soil, competes with weeds. P
FLAX - Sky-blue flowers, Seeds high in edible oil.
OATS - Grain, hay. OM
QUINOA - Ancient Andean grain, spinach like leaves OM
RAPE SEED - Canola oil, winter cover.
RYE - Grain. OM
SORGHUM - Grain, forage. OM
SOYBEANS - Edible beans, forage. N
SUNFLOWER - Seeds, oil. OM
TRITICALE - Wheat/rye cross OM
WHEAT - Good roots, grain, straw.

EDIBLE CROPS
AMARANTH - leaves and grain edible.
CARDOON - Tasty leaves. OM
CORN - Grain, forage. OM
COWPEAS - smothers weeds. N
FAVA BEANS - Good beans, flowers. N
FENUGREEK - opens heavy soils, seeds for cooking. N
GARBANZO BEANS - Protein-rich edible beans, forage. N
MOTH BEAN - Good beans, chokes weeds, protects soil. N

SEED COMPANIES
Bountiful Gardens, Willits - 707 459-6410 www.bountifulgardens.org
Harmony Farm Supply, Graton - 707 823-9125 www.harmonyfarm.com
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, Grass Valley - 888 784-1722 www.groworganic.com

Why should you plant COMPOST CROPS? Here are a few reasons:

ENRICH THE SOIL with available nutrients and minerals. Some crops fix Nitrogen or accumulate Phosporous in soil. 

IMPROVE SOIL STRUCTURE

* Keep nutrients from leaching beyond the reach of crops.
* Help produce good soil structure and maintain air spaces essential for good crop health.
* Till the earth for you. ALFALFA can send down roots as deep as 60 feet and fixes nitrogen in soil. Clear alfalfa at 3
   months and roots will decompose in the ground.
* A single RYE plant can produce many feet of roots per day. Roots help loose soils bind together and clay soils
  open up.

DECREASE DISEASE AND PEST PROBLEMS: Interrupts disease and pest cycles.

PROVIDE ORGANIC MATTER FOR COMPOST OR MULCH

PROVIDE FORAGE FOR ANIMALS

SUPPRESS WEEDS

* Provide a living mulch that will protect soil from erosion and other weathering effects.
* Fall-planted compost crops will pump excess water out of the soil, allowing you to prepare the soil and plant crops
  much earlier than usual. Fava Beans can pump soil dry in as little as five days of warm weather.
* Used for centuries, they are an essential part of crop rotation.
* Increase soil biological activity.
* Feed earthworms and soil organisms.

WHAT DO YOU DO AFTER THE PLANT IS GROWN?

TURN IN THE COMPOST CROP 
Spade directly into the soil and wait 14 to 30 days for it to decompose before planting.

COMPOST IT for maximum benefit. 

The secret to successful composting is to combine equal weights of FRESH GREEN ORGANIC MATTER providing nitrogen with DRY BROWN ORGANIC MATTER (carbon). The carbon holds the water-soluble nitrogen in the compost and later in the soil. Adding one-third topsoil (by weight) slows and cools the composting process producing up to 40% more compost. Hotter piles, in effect, burn off part of their mass.

By making compost from your compost crops you not only increase soil volume and quality, but feed earthworms and soil organisms, which in turn stimulate and speed up the release of nutrients, thus making more nutrients available for the next crop.

Back to Composting Section

By Jane Bogner 1998


VALCORE Recycling, Inc.           38 Sheridan St.           Vallejo, CA 94590 
Phone:(707) 645-8258          Fax:(707) 553-2784          Composting Hotline: (707) 645-8258
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