Red Clover

Posted on 14th May 2010 in Garden, Wild Edibles

We have just built nine more raised beds to double the size of our garden. After filling them plus three more in the greenhouse and topping up all the existing beds, we still had soil to use. Where should it go? We didn’t really want to make more beds right now and we certainly did not want to waste the soil we had paid hard earned bucks for, so I told hubby to put the extra soil on top of the compost pile to help feed the microorganisms working on that project for us. Since a large part of that 10′ x 10′ pile was made up of long bamboo sticks, I figured the soil would trickle down through them and fill up the large air pockets in the pile. Perfect for composting.

When hubby had finished moving the leftover soil to the compost pile, he told me the soil was 2 or 3 feet thick. Wow! I had no idea we had that much soil left! It looked to me like another garden waiting to be planted so I spent the week trying to figure out what to plant there. Strawberries was the first thing that came to mind and that’s what I told hubby. But the more I thought about that, the more I realized it might be difficult to harvest them–given that the pile has a shaky foundation of bamboo brush, oak leaves, and partially decomposted vegetable matter from last year’s garden. Hmmm. Well, procrastination has always worked for me before…

Now I know what to do! I had read somewhere that clover is good to plant as a cover crop on unused garden areas for many reasons. One of them is to keep the soil from drying up and blowing away in the wind. Another is to provide “green manure” for the soil you are building for a future garden. You grow it, you dig it in, then you plant a regular garden. And you get a really good excuse to procrastinate…

Another reason to plant red clover is that the leaves and the flowers are good food! Most people don’t think of clover as food so it should also be a good preparedness strategy. I’ve just been reading Linda Runyon’s fourth issue of the Wild Times Newsletter that I subscribed to at Of the Field. In the article entitled “Wild Foods from the Adonirack Woods,” Linda describes harvesting and using red clover.

I think I can handle drinking a cup of tea made from 4 or 5 red clover flowers and mixing a few chopped clover leaves into brown rice, and I happen to have some clover seeds for sprouting in the fridge right now, so off I go to seed my clover patch.

Have a great weekend!

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