1 Pound Sunn Hemp Cover Crop Seed
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Summer in South Florida is the perfect time to focus your attention on building new garden space and building up soil fertility in your raised bed garden. To complete the cycle of soil care and gardening year round let’s learn what cover crops are and what they do for our garden. Cover crops are varieties of crops that are planted during your non-production season (winter in the north, summer down here) as the part of your crop rotation where your soil can rest and be rejuvenated. Cover crops are planted primarily to manage soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife in an agroecosystem, and can also be used to produce food, feed, or fiber. Each region has different cover crops that are popular based on weather and climate, our most common cover crops are Buckwheat and Sunn Hemp.
Sunn hemp is an amazing cover crop that has become very popular in the south. A leguminous cover crop, it adds nitrogen to the soil via its root system (should be inoculated with Mycorrhizal fungus for this process) and if tilled in, all other parts of the plant, flower, stem and leaf will also be useful accessible nitrogen for your next planting. Nematodes do not use sunn hemp as a host, so planting your garden with it can help starve them out of your soil. Innoculate and broadcast seeds densely, and cut down at about 60 days, before flowering. letting the Sunn Hemp fully mature will leave you with thick fibrous stalks that can be hard to manage (sometimes even our commercial grade mower has a hard time with the stalk of a mature sunn hemp plant) Cover cropping also suppresses weeds by competing with them for sunlight, produces biomass and organic matter in your soil as it decomposes, and reduces erosion by holding soil in place during heavy rains. Your complicated and valuable soil microorganisms also require root systems and active soil in order to stay healthy, so when your garden isnt being populated with food crops its better to have cover crop growing and providing habitat and food for the soil life than leaving the soil bare, empty and exposed.
We till our Sunn hemp in by cutting it into small sections with a weed whacker until all that’s left is little stubs. If you dont have a weed whacker and you are dealing with a small space you can literally just push it to the ground with your hands, folding and snapping its stems, or step on it. We then let the Sunn hemp pieces dry up on the surface of the fields to act as a weed suppressant mulch. In the weeks to come the Sunn hemp dries and becomes less fibrous, slowly releasing nitrogen into the soil from above, while the roots die and slough their nitrogen nodules. Your other option is to till in the cover crop once its cut down, or to smother it with new topsoil, hay, or plastic so that the plant matter can be composted in site as a green manure (providing additional nitrogen) instead of a dried brown manure (more carbon).
We are offering 1 pound bags of Sunn Hemp seed for shipping throughout the state due to the demand for it this time of year from our local home growers. We will inoculate the seed with legume inoculant before sending so it can be planted straight away, no need to buy anything else. 1 pound is the perfect amount of seed for a 4 x 8 foot raised bed.
For more information on Sunn Hemp we suggest the following links: