Buckwheat is a fast-growing summer cover crop; a succulent that can be grown as a green manure because it adds nutrients and organic matter to the soil. It smothers weeds, protect the soil surface and provides habitat for pollinating and other beneficial insects.
Buckwheat seed can germinate within days of planting, especially if the soil is warmer than 55 degrees. Because it doesn’t require much water and tolerates poor fertility, buckwheat succeeds in many less than ideal places in the garden. Buckwheat does not like the shade or soggy soil.
It improves the short-term condition of soil and readies it for planting. It is particularly efficient at taking up phosphorus from the soil and storing it in its tissues. Because it grows so fast, it is ideal for planting in places that might be left bare over the summer, such as spare garden beds whose spring crops are harvested and fall crops are yet to be planted. This is why it is often used in rotation with vegetables, even in smaller home gardens.
Buckwheat is often grown to attract beneficial insects and as pasture for honey bees.
Easy to handle. May be blown around in high wind or splashed by rain.
Thickness: 1-1½ in.
Weed Control: Good, may sprout
Water Penetration: Excellent
Moisture Retention: Fair
Decomposition Speed: Slow
Do not plant into hard soil. Buckwheat will not break up hard pan.
Flooding stops growth permanently.
Weeds will grow in any gaps over 10 inches.
Parasitic wasps, ladybugs, and hoverflies are beneficial insects that are attracted to buckwheat. Harmful insects, such as tarnished plant bugs and aphids, are also attracted. However, aphids can serve as a food source for the beneficials.
“The earth neither grows old or wears out if it is dunged.”
~ Columella, circa 45 A.D.
- Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Science