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Q: Cover Crop Above Septic System

By on July 07, 2009

PVFS Staff reply to customer questions:

In response to our conversation of your situation, of which I understand the following:
-want low growing
-want to incorporate wildflowers
-need shallow roots (since above septic)
-will not water in the summer

It’s important to note that many wildflowers are not low growing.  If this is acceptable, the mix I would say best meets your needs is our Premium Erosion Mix. As you can read in the description, the grasses and clovers are low growing with strong roots, but it does have a taller wildflower mix added.  An alternative would be to purchase all the same grasses and clovers individually, but add our Low Growing Wildflower Mix instead of what it already contains.

The very best way to ensure a good stand is to plant in the Fall and make sure it is consistently watered during germination.  If the timing is right, the seed should germinate and the roots start growing while the soil is still warm enough for it to do so (I don’t know where your cabin is, but in Nevada City, October is a good time).  The winter rains will then take over and since the root system will be established, the seed will not wash away.  The top growth is slow due to cool ambient temperature, but in the Spring, the plants will come up quickly.  Since the mix consists of annual plants, they will go through their life cycle, through flowering and seed forming, then drop their seed for the next year.  The plants themselves will brown and die.

If this kind of care and timing is not possible, plant when you need to, but realize that your success rate may not be great (you might consider seeding at a heavier rate).  The dangers of planting seed in summer is that they may dry out or get eaten by birds (put some straw over the seeds to minimize those effects).  I would suggest NOT watering if you are planting this summer, because if the seeds germinate, the seedlings will perish without consistent watering through the summer; just let the rains take care of them when the rains come.

Hope that helps and thank you for growing organically!

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