Video Clip: Hairy Vetch and Rye Strips Between Crops from Vegetable Farmers and their Innovative Cover Cropping Techniques


Farmers and their Innovative Cover Cropping Techniques [DVD]. V. Grubinger. 2006. University of Vermont Extension. Available for purchase from: 31 Dec 2008).

This is a Vegetable Farmers and their Innovative Cover Cropping Techniques video clip.


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Eero Ruuttila, Nesenkeag Farm. Litchfield, NH.

Audio Text

So what we have here is a strip of hairy vetch and rye, I started to turn it over probably mid April and everything was broken down enough that I was able to transplant my tomato plants probably about the third week in May. And meanwhile the rye and vetch on the beds next to it were continuing to grow. Just about at this stage is the point when you want to knock it down. What I’m looking for is for the vetch to start to go to flower or for the rye to be at pollen stage. And what I like to do ideally is to cultivate once with my tractor and then I’ll knock it down with the mower and then once it’s down we’ll use the straw as a mulch for the tomato plants and then we’ll bring in some stakes and do a basket weave system to bring a trellising for the tomatoes up out of the mulch. I’m using the straw from the strips to start with the mulching process but I try to have a block of rye and vetch nearby as you can see behind here and I’ll mow that down as I start to mulch these - I’ll have a good close by area where I can bring in more mulch without taking a lot of labor moving mulch from one area to another area of the farm.

I look at the cover crops as biomass, two things that are very important for the farm is nitrogen, the nitrogen fixing from the legume that’s part of the green manure, and biomass is very important so I want to maximize my biomass which is bring it to full maturity. Strip system with hairy vetch and rye overwintered and then cutting strips in the springtime I use it for wide spaced crops or crops that I choose to grow at a wide spacing that may not traditionally be grown at a wide spacing. Pumpkins and winter squash easy to plant at ten foot centers that works very well so I can have five foot wide beds with the adjacent 5 foot wide strip of hairy vetch and rye. Tomatoes I have a wide spacing so I can get a good air flow for disease.

This video project was funded in part by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (USDA).

Published June 15, 2011

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