A Cocktail on the Greenway
Horticulturalists get excited about a very different type of cocktail: the cover crop cocktail. Cover crops are the under appreciated heroes of soil. If you’re a root trying to drill down into the soil, cover crops “pre” drill a path for you. If you’re a plant looking for nutrients, cover crops will enrich the soil with sugars and make nitrogen and other nutrients more available. If you’re a weed, prepare to be weeded out. And if you’re a Green & Grow apprentice, prepare to get your hands dirty!
It’s not easy being a garden in the middle of downtown Boston. A garden bed in Dewey Square Park is suffering from deficient soils and poor drainage, and will soon be getting some additional attention from our Green & Grow teens. We’re using the soil and irrigation remediation of this bed as an educational opportunity, and last week we added a new irrigation system to prepare for our own colorful cover crops.
With the new irrigation system in place, planting can begin, and here’s where our specialty cocktail comes in. We’ll be adding:
5 parts Sudangrass, Buckwheat and Oats for extra biomass
4 parts Alfalfa and Oilseed Radish for biodrilling
7 parts Red and White clovers for rhizodeposition
18 parts Chickling Vetch, Soybeans, Sunflowers for nitrogen fixing
1 part Sudangrass for nutrient scavenging
5 parts Field Peas and Winter Rye and ‘Dwarf Essex’ Rape for weed smothering
Over the course of the next year, this garden will demonstrate urban polyculture at its best. The use of a variety of cover crops will naturally enrich the soil and keep the garden beautiful and productive year-round, which will help ensure the garden bed looks great and functions agriculturally. While farmers often mix all the seeds together and broadcast them loosely over the soil, Landscape Architect Natalie DeNormandie helped us consider function, height and color of each of our crops before arranging the plots. Our neighbors who view the parks from above will see a continuation of waves of plant material that run throughout the park and remind us of our close connection to the Harbor and Fort Point Channel.
Last but certainly not least, three plots and 14 trellises will be left for an even more special function: growing our own food! The Green & Grow apprentices will take their salsa, herbs and pizza from seed to table this summer. They will plant the tomatoes, peppers and onions they started from seed this past winter. In addition to their favorite veggies and herbs, the apprentices will plant peas and beans to harvest and share with the public at the Boston Public Market on Dewey Square. Stop by this summer and hear from the team how they learned to grow their own food on the Greenway!