Preparing for Summer

The summer months in South Florida are hot and rainy, making it uncomfortable to garden. That is why many of our gardeners use this time to build up the soil in their garden beds by planting green manures or other plants that hinder the spread of weeds. The Garden Committee has some suggestions for planting in the summer months.

1 – Sunn Hemp

Sunn hemp is a tropical plant primarily grown as a cover crop or green manure. Originally from India, it’s easy to understand what makes it so popular among vegetable farmers in the United States. Sunn hemp possesses many soil-building traits, including high rates of biomass production. It is not only resistant to plant root nematodes but actively suppresses them. In as little as 60 to 90 days it can produce 120 pounds of nitrogen per acre and can suppress weeds up to 90 percent.Sunn Hemp is adapted to a wide variety of soil and environmental conditions, thriving through hot, dry summers and continuing to grow until the first frost.

2 – Black Velvet Beans

These beans are known for their nitrogen fixing properties as a benefit to the soil and also as feed for cattle. In Northwest Florida, black velvet beans are grown along with corn and allowed to grow up the cornstalks! These plants will help your soil and keep weeds out of your garden box.

3 – Buckwheat

Buckwheat is an ideal cover crop – it attracts bees and adds nitrogen and phosphorus to the soil. It grows quickly and 2 or three crops can be grown in one summer. The hollow stalks make it easy to pull up and integrate into the soil. Buckwheat adds biomass to the soil and organic matter needed for the soil web.

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