Is buckwheat a good cover crop to plant around my new house?


I have a newly constructed house that’s surrounded by bulldozed land with a 15% – 20% grade that is mostly gravel and clay. I want to plant a cover crop to enrich the soil and prevent erosion while I plan what to do with the property. I’m thinking of buckwheat which will die back in the winter. Can it be mowed before it gets too tall or is it best to let it flower? I don’t want it to seed. Or can you suggest any alternative crop?


Jonathan Foster, Home Horticulture Outreach Professional

Buckwheat is a good choice for poor soil conditions, as you can read in MOFGA’s (Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener Association) page on green manures and cover crops, although you’ll see in that resource that it doesn’t necessarily add as much to your soil-building efforts as other crops. But to get you started, keep weeds in check, and stabilize the soil until you have a longer term plan, it’s a good choice. You do want to mow it before it sets seed.

Some other resources for you to check out:

UMaine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #1170, “Cover Cropping for Success” (aimed at commercial and agricultural scale, but with good information)

UMaine Cooperative Extension Cover Crops and Green Manures (common cover crops, seeding rates, schedules, etc.)

Happy gardening.