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Rye and Vetch are a traditional combination for use as a cover crop or winter manure. The plants work extremely well together: they are able to fix large quantities of nitrogen from the air in root nodules; they are fast growing, are winter hardy and adapted to a wide range of soils. This mixture adjusts to residual soil nitrogen levels. If there’s plenty of N, rye tends to do better; if there is insufficient N, the legume component grows better. Rye helps protect the less hardy vetch seedlings through winter.
This mix is useful for many crops including tomatoes and onions but is used particularly in crop rotation prior to planting leafy crops such as brassicas. This two-way mix guarantees biomass, builds soil and leaves readily available nitrogen for these hungry crops.
Used through to late autumn to overwinter, it makes considerable growth during the cool temperatures of late autumn to early winter, and resumes growth very quickly in the early spring. It provides autumn, winter, and spring soil cover when the potential for wind and water erosion losses are substantial.
Rye is one of the best cool season cover crops for out competing weeds, especially small-seeded, light-sensitive annuals such as lambsquarters, pigweed, chickweed and foxtail. It suppresses many weeds allelopathically (as a natural herbicide), including dandelions and thistle. Paired with Tares it increases the weed-suppressing effects.
Growing rye with tares allows you to delay killing by a few weeks and sustain yields. This gives the legume more time to fix N (in some cases doubling the N contribution) and rye more time to scavenge a little more leachable N.
Pretty Wild Seeds are registered with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) under number 7529, so you can have confidence in both our products and advice. Although our products are listed in weights and acres, we can supply in additional quantities upon enquiry so if you need a larger supply, please don't hesitate to give us a call.
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You are solely responsible for ensuring the goods are returned to us. We will not be liable for returns that are lost in the post or lost for any other reason. If a product arrives damaged we will advise the customer how to return the item with all return costs covered by us. Replacements & refunds will be dispatched / issued on receipt of the returned items only.
Sowing; There are two methods of sowing Rye and vetch as a green manure.
The seeds can be simply mixed and sown together in spring or in autumn. But, when used as an overwintering green manure in very cold areas, where temperatures are likely to be below freezing for a substantial time, Tares are often overseeded into rye in the spring. Tares will grow through the rye and is usually seeded at 50% that of Rye.
Tares (Vicia sativa)
Vicia sativa, also known as ‘Tare’ or simply ‘the Vetch’, is the largest, most vigorous leguminous plant in the Vicia genus. During the spring it will grow dense green foliage that suppresses weeds, adds organic matter and improves the texture of the soil. It is easy to dig in. This hardy annual can be sown in spring to dig in later in summer or in autumn to overwinter.
As a green manure, Rye is hardiest of cereals. Rye can establish in very cool weather. It will germinate at temperatures as low as 1°C (34°F). Vegetative growth requires 4°C (38° F) or higher. It can be seeded much later in autumn than other cover crops and still provide considerable organic matter. It can be sown in spring to dig in later in summer or in late summer to overwinter. (through November if the weather is mild).
Inexpensive and easy to establish, it is widely adapted, but grows best in cool, temperate zones. Rye prefers light loams or sandy soils and will germinate even in fairly dry soil. It outperforms all other cover crops on infertile, sandy or acidic soil or on poorly prepared land. It also will grow in heavy clays and poorly drained soils, and tolerates water logging.
Sowing; March-May or July-November for overwintering. Prepare the soil by removing weeds, digging over if it hasn't been recently cultivated and raking level. Scatter seeds over the surface of the soil. Both Rye and Tares are sensitive to seeding depth so plant no deeper than 5cm (2in) into the soil.
Make sure the seed is in firm contact with the soil by gently tapping over the surface with the back of a spade. Water in well.
Bare patches should be covered within two to three weeks and plants will do the most good if they are left for at least eight weeks before digging in.
Some farmers prefer to chop or mow by ‘late boot stage’, before they flower.
Tares flowers later in summer, but if it is a very mild winter Rye will start to head out very early, around March.
Digging in early, while plants are short and succulent and before the rye is 45cm (18in) high, is one way to minimize N tie-up and conserve soil moisture. Incorporate N. A rotavator set to only 5cm (2in) makes light work of large areas
Having incorporated tares makes rye a little easier to dig in, but after a winter it may still be hard work and is best done in stages. Either loosen roots one day and then dig in a couple of days later, or cut down foliage, then cover with a light excluding mulch such as black plastic for three weeks and it will be easier to dig in.
Rye releases a chemical that has allelopathic effects. They inhibit the growth of the next crop. To extend rye’s weed-management benefits, you can allow its allelopathic effects to persist longer by leaving killed residue on the surface rather than incorporating it. Allelopathic effects taper off after about 30 days. After killing rye, it’s best to wait three to four weeks before planting small-seeded crops such as carrots or onions directly into the soil.
If planting vegetables into rye as a nurse crop, be aware that rye seedlings have more allelopathic compounds than more mature rye residue. Transplanted vegetables, such as tomatoes, and larger-seeded species, especially legumes, are less susceptible to rye’s allelopathic effects
Don’t forget; Rotate green manures as you would any other crop.