Garden cover crops slash green manures come in lots of shapes and sizes and varieties. One of my favorite is Buckwheat.

You can plant it, grow it and have it incorporated back into the soil within a month if need be. The official recommended timing is 35-40 days, but in some cases I haven’t had that much time, and there was plenty of growth available. It’s a quick, lush grower. The seeds are easy to broadcast because they’re relatively big…


Buckwheat isn’t a nitrogen fixer like legumes or hairy vetch, but its fibrous roots pull up phosphorus, calcium and minerals to be used by your next generation of greenery. It gets tall quickly, and then tops itself off with white flowers that tell you it’s time to murder it and bury its remains. There’s plenty of growth to turn under or leave as mulch, even after just three weeks if you’re in a rush.

It does a fantastic job of shading out unwanted spring or summer weeds, because it sprouts quickly and grows fast. I plant buckwheat in sections of the garden where earlier vegetables are finished producing. And you can use it in Spring to add organic matter and keep weeds in check until you plant your warm-weather crops. It won’t take frost, but since it matures so quickly you have some extra leeway.

buckwheat plant

I get my buckwheat seed from Johnny’s, 1 pound of organic goodness for less than $6. Seeding rate is 2-3 lbs./1000 square feet, but since I just spot-plant, I still have seed left over from the fall sewing to start out the spring garden from just the single pound.

It’s nice to have on-hand. Maybe add a little to that outrageously long seed order that you haven’t placed yet?