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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Pumpkins, Watermelon and cantaloupes are some of those plants that are hard to grow because of inability to control weeds easily. I do not use herbicides in our garden and rely on mechanical weed control and ground coverings to keep weeds from getting out of hand. In the past I’ve grown vining plants on rows of ground cover material but then the plants vine off into grassy areas which wuickly become overgrown.
Last fall I planted hairy vetch, tillage radish and crimson clover in the garden areas. It was a really dry fall and not much germinated and those that did sprout up did not grow much at all. A cold snap over late winter killed the radishes. The vetch did extremely well this spring reaching a height of about 3’.
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I had to drive over a section of vetch to get into my compost pile and that area became a thick mat of vetch stems and leaves. That got me thinking about rolling down the entire area where the vining plants would be and using that as weed control. I thought about using the lawn roller to roll it down but decided to try the Gator first. I drove across the area multiple times with the Gator from the same direction knocking down two 1’ wide sections at a time. Move over 1’ and go again and so on. It all seemed crimped down good and the vetch seemed to be dying off.
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I transplanted the cantaloupe, watermelon and pumpkins over the last few evenings into the vetch mat. We’ve had some light rains off and on during this time so the plants look like they’re getting off to a good start. When digging the transplant holes there were worms in literally every shovelful so I think that’s a good sign. I also added a scoop of composted cow manure to each hole and then top dressed with another scoop.
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This is an idea I've never seen before.
 
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my neighbor does all the hay baling around me, I get all the hay that gets wet and baled, till the soil, break up the bales into wafers and lay them on top, plant between the wafers and you are good to go for most of the year. It does add to the amount of weed seed in the garden, but I was never going to win any way. next year either till them in or add more on top and you are good to go, really helps in dry years, keeps the water splashing off the plants in wet years and cuts down on mildew and funguses on the plants. since I have bees, your idea might serve two purposes. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@wildbranch2007 our bees LOVED the crimson clover. They really like the vetch too but not as many flowers. I use the hay I rake up off the barn floor as weed control in the garlic bed. Good hay shouldn’t have too many weed seeds. First there shouldn’t be weeds and second the weeds that are in it shouldn’t reach maturity to have viable seeds.
 

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Great idea. I am trying something a bit similar for next year for the vegetable garden and my pumpkins. I have a A+B garden. A, one year, B the next. While resting during the off year, the garden gets a cover crop which I broadcast and run over with a light drag. This year, my covercrop is about 90% oats (because they are cheap - I go to the feed mill and get a 80 lb bag of oats - nothing fancy.), and mix in 10% tillage radish. My intent is to let it all grow, and mow it high before it seeds. I will not plow or rototill it in the fall, and plant into it next year, very similar to what you are doing. I may put manure/compost over it, I don't know yet. Kind of figuring this out as I go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Great idea. I am trying something a bit similar for next year for the vegetable garden and my pumpkins. I have a A+B garden. A, one year, B the next. While resting during the off year, the garden gets a cover crop which I broadcast and run over with a light drag. This year, my covercrop is about 90% oats (because they are cheap - I go to the feed mill and get a 80 lb bag of oats - nothing fancy.), and mix in 10% tillage radish. My intent is to let it all grow, and mow it high before it seeds. I will not plow or rototill it in the fall, and plant into it next year, very similar to what you are doing. I may put manure/compost over it, I don't know yet. Kind of figuring this out as I go.
I think it is best to keep something growing on your ground as much of the year as possible. Vetch is about the best at adding natural nitrogen to your soil, even better than clovers. Buckwheat adds a lot of biomass and green manure quickly. You could probably get 3, definitely 2, rotations of buckwheat in during the summer. It is killed by a light frost. Then go to a pats/vetch/radish mix for fall-winter cover. I’ve been experimenting with what works best for me and the vetch did amazing. You aren’t too far from me so we probably have similar weather patterns.
 
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