Deborah Epstein wrote:I planted lots of crimson clover last fall as a cover crop. Then I neglected to cut it down while it was small and it has flowered. It's totally gorgeous. Or it was. I just pulled it all up to use it as slow-release nitrogen in vegetable beds. partly because I remember hearing not to let it go to seed because it will spread like mad. Is this true? (Zone 8b, Vashon Island, Washington)
Since they flowered, I noticed that the bees loved them so I was ambivalent about pulling them up. Even though it's after the fact I thought I might check for next year's purposes... Next year, can/should I plant some for the bees in a place I don't need to pull them up, or will I regret it?
Also, I didn't see root nodules like I see on my fava beans, and they were planted together, so I assume they don't make them. My (possibly incorrect) understanding about using beans for nitrogen fixation, is that you need to cut them at ground level and leave the roots in place, and that's how they'll release their fixed nitrogen. For crimson clover, do I likewise need to leave the roots in place? I didn't this time because I needed to clean some things up, and figured that chop/drop into various beds (or my compost pile) will ultimately accomplish the same goal.
Thanks for helping me understand!
Was your clover inoculated ??? Different legumes need different inoculants. If they were inoculated then it may mean that where you planted that clover had enough nitrogen for them as they only make nodules if then "NEED" more nitrogen. It actually is easier for the plant roots to absorb nitrogen than it is to absorb nitrogen from the air, put that nitrogen in the nodule along with plant sugars to feed the bacteria and for bacteria to change the gas nitrogen into something the roots can absorb. Also crimson clover is at least here in Mississippi (zone 8b) more expensive per acre to plant than Ladino or Fixation clover (they are white clovers). Also crimson clover is one of the lowest palatable clovers to wildlife, cows, sheep etc. vs white clover. Also both fixation and ladino clover makes way more biomass and fix almost 2 times the amount of nitrogen compared to crimson clover. I personally plant 4 acres of garden area each fall/winter in ladino or fixation clovers and we have mild winters so it grows all winter and starts flowering here in February. I disk it under when 20% starts to flower as this is when it has the maximum biomass and nitrogen fixed. I'm not sure about crimson and what percent is hard seed but hard seed is when the seed has a thick coating on it and the seed can remain viable in the ground for years before it germinates. This is why you should remove, cut or till it in before it seeds especially when some clovers can have over 20% hard seed. If you want your clover to keep growing year after year I would recommend ladino as it is a perennial, where both fixation and crimson are both annuals and will need seed to be bought as the patch declines in population.
Yes all legumes need to have their roots left in the ground to rot and release any nitrogen they "FIXED" but as I said I disk both plant and roots under in my fields but you can chop n drop the tops in place to make a good mulch and they will rot rather quickly and soon worms and other insects will bring this mulch underground where it will add more nutrients too.
I also have another white clove I use but its a low growing type (white dutch clover) and I only plant it in my pathways in the garden. Both it and ladino are perennials the only difference is ladino can grow to 2-3 feet high while dutch grows 2-6 inches tall. Both are good to mix in grass too as they can handle high foot traffic and can take animal pressure (grazing) well. The only down side is it doesn't grow much and can even die in the hottest parts of June-Aug. here. Not sure if Washington gets as hot and humid as here but you may have the same problems there if you also have 90+ deg temps and 90% humidity LOL