Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cover Crops and the European Scythe

I forgot to mention that during the seminar, both Jim R. and Joe M. recommended the use of cover crops for additionally adding nitrogen back into the soil. These plants are usually seeded in the late summer or fall (although sometimes early spring, depending on the plant) and allowed to grow over the winter (or a fallow season), and are then cut and tilled into the garden soil (or if you are using the Fukuoka no-till method like we are on some of our garden, it is either cut and left to lay in place, or simply planted directly into).

Since legumes are "nitrogen fixers" many of these cover crops are in the leguminaceae family, meaning they have bean or pea pod like fruit, such as hairy vetch, lab lab, Austrian winter pea, cow pea, etc. There's also clover, winter wheat, rye, and oats.

Joe believes all of us should learn to use a European scythe for cutting grass, grains, and cover crops because, unlike their American component, they are lightweight, easy to use, and easy to sharpen. Best of all, they require no gasoline!

He recommended Scythe Supply and the Marugg Company where he worked for a while in his homeland of Tennessee. Let's ask him to give us a demonstration at one of the upcoming meetings or seminars!

I've also added the Soil Foodweb Inc. link to the sidebar. Joe had mentioned the work of Dr. Ingram and her studies of the microbes in soils which is very interesting.


  1. Joe makes it look so easy. It REALLY is.

  2. I've never used a scythe but I'm ready to try it.
    I have an old scythe up at my cabin and I think it is a European type.