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Q: Crowding Out a Weed Problem with Cover Crops

Jan 28, 2010 -

A PVFS Customer Question with staff answer.

Question:
Hi there,

We inherited a pasture with a terrible weed problem. I’m new to farming and would like to some how “magically” transform it into a wildflower meadow with some food for our hens. From my reading i understand that the best way to do this is to till it a few times and then plant several generations of cover crops that will die back as the new one is seeded in order to smother the weeds and make room for our meadow. Can you recommend some varieties or mixes that we can grow to make this happen? My first concern is crowding out the weeds, next is that we would love it if our chickens can eat it. We can irrigate if necessary although it’s 2/3 acre so that’s not too desirable. We live near Portland OR and we would like to get started before our weeds have another year to take over. As a bonus question, I’d love some suggestions for meadow mixes that would help feed the hens as well. Thank you for any advice you may have!

Answer:
The best way to rid your pasture of weeds is to exhaust the seed bank and then plant what you want to grow. To exhaust the seed bank, till the area, water and then hoe, flame or VERY shallowly till to kill the seedlings.  Rinse and repeat 2 -4 times depending on how strong the seed bank is. The idea is to germinate as many of the seeds on the surface as possible, which is why you don’t want to till deeply which just brings more seeds to the surface.

When you are ready to plant (right after your final weeding) spread some compost and your seeds of choice. Water and you should have a great pasture.

As far as suggestions for what to plant, the Grasses and Wild Flower Mix (SCG055) would be good, or the Sheep Fescue (SCG295) mixed with an annual or perennial clover (chickens LOVE clover!) and the Pacific NW Wildflower mix (SWF810), Mediterranean Dryland Mix (SWF910), Hummingbird Mix (SWF670), or any of the other mixes that catch you eye. The Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend is a great chicken pasture mix, but it does need summer irrigation.

Hope this helps, and thanks for growing organically!

 



Chandler Says:
Feb 25th, 2010 at 10:49 am

Any advice on perennial weed pressure such as bind weed or quack grass in both a row cropping field & permanent pasture?

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