Cover Crops for Food

Since moving to Georgia, we have made an effort to go north for a couple of weeks each summer. It helps us escape the heat and it allows us to see family during the nicest part of the year in New England. This means the garden struggles. Of course, it’s usually the end of July or early August that we head north so the garden is taking a break for the most part, but without someone here to keep the pigweed, lambs quarter and morning glory at bay, the weeds can take over in a matter of weeks. We learned this the hard-way last year. So this year as we prepared to go north, we decided to head to the local nursery and see what they had for cover crops.

Daikon radish
The last vestige of daikon radish in the garden as a cover crop.

We weren’t really sure what to get, so we went with the cheapest things the owner suggested – a pound of buckwheat seed and a pound of daikon radish seed. I knew buckwheat is good for honey and if we got ambitious we could grind the seeds for flour, so that sounded good. I also knew you could eat daikon radish, and they’re often used in Asian cuisine, but these were seeds out of a 55 gallon drum and I had no clue what variety of daikon they were (or if there even are different varieties of daikon radish.) With no inclination as to what I was doing, I walked around the perimeter of the garden, broadcast seeding the buckwheat on two sides and the daikon on the other two.

When we left, the weather was predictably dry, but we did have a few rain storms, and apparently it was enough for the cover crops to take root so that when we returned home, we had a weed free perimeter, some pretty white buckwheat flowers and some baby daikon growing in the back.

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Full grown and ready to use.

Of course, we tilled the buckwheat and daikon back into the ground when it came time to get our fall crops in, but partly out of laziness and also because I like to experiment, I left part of the back row as daikon, just to see what would happen. Well, they got bigger, and bigger, and bigger, to the point that they actually look like the long white radishes that you see when you purchase daikon from the store. This was awesome not only because the the chickens love the greens and it’s an excellent supplement for fresh forage now that winter is here.

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Yummy yummy kkakdugi!

But also because it’s the right kind of radish to make kkakdugi – radish kimchi!

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