Buckwheat - the SUPER Plant
Is there anything this plant CAN'T do?
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a beautiful plant that has a number of uses in the garden.
What do you picture when you hear the word "Buckwheat"? Buckwheat pancakes? Buckwheat honey? A TV character?
Although "wheat" is in the name, buckwheat is not a grain at all. In fact, it is a member of the Rhubarb family! This means it is a gluten free food that looks like a grain, sounds like a grain, but isn't. Like quinoa or chia, it's a seed crop.
We don't grow buckwheat at Windcrest as a food crop for us - although we could. We grow it as a food crop for beneficial and pollinating insects, our soil microbes and an occasional green treat for our chickens. We also grow it as a fertilizer.
With it's heart-shaped leaves and delicate white flowers, buckwheat should also be considered for containers, raised beds and in the general landscape as an ornamental. Quite accidently, I discovered that buckwheat stems also have a very long vase life when used as a filler in cut flower bouquets.
The Benefits of Buckwheat
24 to 48 inches tall
30 to 45 days to maturity
Not frost tolerant
Resistant to late blight
Sow 2 to 3 lbs per 1000 square feet
Buckwheat is ideal for sowing anytime the soil is bare during the growing season. For example, after you've harvested your first crops, in beds you won't be presently planting, or in beds intended for fall crops. It is easy to kill / remove when you are ready for to plant your next crop.
Direct sow buckwheat after all chance of frost is past. Planting several successions in a season can be effective for eradicating persistent annual weeds. Buckwheat grows so quickly that it shades out many weeds before they have a chance to take hold.
To plant, scatter the buckwheat seeds over a raked, weed-free bed. Fast growing, buckwheat goes from seed to flower in six weeks, and produces more seeds in just 13 weeks.
To use as a green manure, "chop and drop" buckwheat or till it in. As it decomposes, it releases phosphorus and other soil and microbe enhancers.