Trying fall rye

Earthway broadcast seeder and fall rye seed

With the oats experiment going good all around the field, it’s time for experimental green manure-cover crop #2, fall rye (starts and grows well in cool weather). Reading about cover crops online, I found one apparently popular method for seeding ’em is…”airplane”. I use the more down-to-earth Earthway broadcast seeder, which works like one of those hand-held lawn seeders, except there’s a big zippered bag and shoulder strap instead of the handgrip and little funnel. You fill up the bag, sling it over your shoulder, and then, in one smooth movement—limbs, synchronize!—turn the crank with your right hand, slide open the seed hole (with a little spring-loaded lever) with your left, and start walking (I go forward). The seed streams out of the aperture at the bottom of the bag, onto a rotating plate with dividers that flings the seed a little over 180° in front of you. The combination of seed hole size (determined by how far back you pull the lever), and the cranking and walking speeds determine the coverage. Seed is spread maybe 5′-7′ (1.5-2.1m) on either side. Open the seed hole aperture too much and you’ll drain the bag in no time at all—heavy coverage. It’s not at all difficult, you can be broadcasting seed in minutes, but still, a little bit of a trick!

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3 thoughts on “Trying fall rye

  1. Hey there – I am so happy to find your blog! I am looking into buying some property to start my own microfarm here in the Hudson Valley (New York) and I’ve been looking for resources, info and networking relating to getting started in small-scale farming. What a fabulous site – Let me know if you have any recommended reading or ideas in terms of getting started in microfarming with very little farming experience (but a good bit of vegetable gardening experience). Thanks for providing this resource – It reminds me how much I want to do this. I just bought rye today for the first time, btw, to sow over my vegetable beds as soon as the fall harvest is done.

  2. Hey Hineini: Starting your microfarm—that’s cool! I started pretty much from scratch, mainly by reading books and stuff online, calling people up on the phone with questions, and trying stuff out in the field. I had no clue about veggie gardening, so if you’re already a gardener, you’re half-set! :) The rest IMO is about keeping everything moving ahead at an even pace, without getting yourself in debt! Of course, there’s succession planting in the garden, but also keeping your equipment needs, resources, marketing outlets and the like all kinda synchronized. Like, it’d be obviously a bit of problem to have grown way more of a crop than you can sell (at a direct consumer rate!), or start and transplant a whole lot of something that you don’t have the gear to irrigate if rain gets tight. And so forth. Start with a simple, logical, comprehensive plan that goes from seed to sale… You’re never too tiny to plan! All common sense stuff. Overall, the unfarmer-like phrase that comes to mind is…good orchestration! ;)

    Resources… A great organic microfarming/market gardening first book (the “standard”) is Eliot Coleman’s The New Organic Grower. This winter, I hope to put more start-up stuff here on TFB in the side pages: links, books, from my humble experience, whatever. Also, the few tiny farming blogs I’ve had time to check out and really like are in the sidebar!

    It’ll be…FUN!

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