Frost Seeding Red Clover

UPDATE: Taking orders for delivery every other Saturday to Madison. Next date: March 19th.  Email Matthew with order and/or questions: Thank you!

I felt like I was sprinkling Tinkerbell dust as I drove back and forth across an old hay field, Monday, March 14th.

I used our broadcast seeder, pictured, to frost seed Red Clover early in the morning before the sun muddied the soil.

We like our hay and pastures to have a mix of grass and legume.  Grasses use nitrogen from the soil to grow.  Legumes, with the help of bacteria near their roots, are able to pull nitrogen from the air and deposit into the soil.  So legumes and grasses grow really well together.

Plus, cattle love a mixed sward so they can choose their bites based on whatever cattle base that decision on. 

And we like making hay that is a mix of grass and legumes.  Legumes are usually higher in protein.  And grass dries faster, and cushions the legumes so their leaves don’t fall off as much when baling dry hay.

When we plant into a tilled field with our single disc grain drill, we plant alfalfa as the legume.  Alfalfa is the most productive of the legumes in our area.

But when we frost seed, I prefer Red Clover over Alfalfa because Red Clover germinates easier than Alfalfa.  As I’m writing this, my BS sniffer is going wild.  I realize I’ve never experimented with this and it would be easy to do.  I will experiment with this in the future!

Ok, the real reason is Red Clover is half the price of Alfalfa and its difficult to spend money when you are sprinkling seed on top of the ground and it feels wasteful.  

I’m not sure why, as that’s how Nature plants most seeds, but we Farmers like control, and sprinkling on top of the ground feels more like a Faith based activity!

I’ll try to remember to update you on this project as the season progresses.

2 Responses to Frost Seeding Red Clover

  1. Anonymous says:

    While mixing things is happening . . . do you grow corn? Any of your neighbors.

    In between the rows, grow the little plant called corn salad or lamb’s lettuce.

    In France it’s known as mâche. Pronounced mah-shh. Like mash, only with “ah” sound instead that flat A.

    Just a type of small lettuce, but it has some nutrition that isn’t available just everywhere. Sell it at the farmer’s market to high-end foodies . . . unless you already grow it, and eat all of it yourselves.

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