Knowledge from Olle Garden Bed: Hairy Grapes Planting

In autumn, when many gardeners rest their land, some plant winter mulch crops to improve the soil. The hairy crape myrtle may sound like an insult, but this beautiful plant is actually an excellent mulch crop that grows in the off-season. The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.

Good mulching crops can prevent erosion, aerate the soil and replenish nutrients. The hairy wild pea is one of the best mulch crops. It can do these three things and kill weeds.

Grapevizing itself or pairing with rye is a beautiful way to increase nitrogen content in soil. Whenever I plan to improve the soil of my home, I always think of vetch and look forward to the purple flowers in spring.

raised garden bed

Vecchi is an ideal mulch crop

I first heard about mulch crops when my husband was an apprentice on an organic farm in southern New England. There, farmers plant rye and hairy grapes (Viciavillosa) in their fields every autumn and plough them into the soil when the snow melts.

If you have never planted mulch crops before, I will briefly introduce this practice to you. We plant mulch crops to improve the soil in the "off season". Cover crops to cover soil to protect them from winter wind, rain and snow.

They also work to improve the soil - replenish some of the nutrients we absorb from the soil during the growing season. You can use them as green manure.

Most cover crops are winter cereals and beans. You plant them in autumn, and then plough them in before planting in spring. Vetch is a leguminous plant (belonging to the same family as peanut and alfalfa).

Because of the early spring flowers, many gardeners choose to plough in the flowers before they appear. Plowing before flowering can prevent your vines from growing weeds or reseeding on the garden bed.

But the flowers are so beautiful. They are also excellent fodder for bees. When bees appear after a long winter, they will appreciate the early flowering plants - hunger. There is nothing wrong with throwing your purple flowers into the soil after they have bloomed!

raised garden bed


When you prepare the ground for covering crops, first remove the debris from the previous season. Pull up dead plants, rake out leaves, and then turn over the soil. If you have a plow or rotary tiller, you can simply farm the soil.

I like to add any soil conditioner before farming. I will sprinkle a bit of last year's wood ash, rake some good compost excrement, and then until the whole mess, until it looks soft and loose.

When your soil is just cultivated, broadcast your laver seeds. This should be done as soon as possible after farming to give vetch a head start. If you wait a day or two, all weeds will have a chance to sprout first and suffocate your mulch crops.

Every 1000 square feet of garden needs about 1-2 pounds of seeds. If your garden is much smaller, consider buying a half pound bag of grape flowers with 400-500 square feet, or buying 100-300 square feet with a quarter pound of grape flowers.

Broadcast seeds by distributing them semi uniformly over the garden. I like to mark garden spaces on 10x10 feet of land, scatter them, and then cover the seeds. Then I move on to the next marked plot.

raised garden bed

If you have a particularly large garden, this method may become tedious, so use the seed spreader randomly in rows.

When the seeds are scattered, cover them with about half an inch of soil. Water the entire bed - let the water soak in the soil and come back to water again. We don't want standing puddles, but we do want the water to have penetrated the top half inch of the soil.

If you want to sow grapes and rye together, mix the seeds before scattering to allow the crops to mix naturally.

When to plant

Since wild peas like to start growing before winter dormancy, it is best to plant them one month to 40 days before the predicted strong frost. For us New Englanders, this makes planting time around September 1.

Of course, you can also plant wild peas in early spring to get bright summer flowers. Or in early July, if you want to harvest it as animal feed. Most people who grow wild peas use them as winter mulch crops, but don't limit yourself. Weichi is a plant with rich functions.

If you do plant your wild peas too close to the hard frost, or you will unexpectedly freeze them in advance, don't worry, your spring wild peas may be a little backward, but in most cases, the hairy crape myrtle planted too close to winter will still appear in spring.

raised garden bed

As the hairy crape myrtle can stand cold to - 20 ° F, it can survive even in some of the worse winter weather we have. It is a successful mulch crop with temperatures as low as USDA Cold Tolerant Zone 3.

Ideal soil

The hairy wild peas do not perform well in heavy, poorly drained soil. If your soil is compacted or tends to retain moisture, you may want to look at other mulch crops.

Ideally, wild peas prefer sandy soils with pH values between 6.0 and 7.0 that are well drained. However, as long as it meets its demand for well drained soil, it can adapt to less ideal conditions.

Vetch grows best in completely to partially sunny areas. Especially if you plant it before winter as a mulch crop. Vetch will be built faster and more firmly in the space that provides sufficient sunlight.

Wickham in autumn, winter and spring

Once sown, your grape skin will sprout quickly and begin to grow. If you use it as a mulch crop, there is no need to thin it. If you are planting its beautiful flowers, narrow your plants to about 3 inches apart.

The hairy wild peas grow slowly in autumn, but continue to grow throughout the winter - under snow. In spring, your vines are firmly established. With the increase of temperature, the hairy grapes began to grow rapidly. It is rarely more than 3 feet tall, but it is very long, and the trellis vines can reach 12 feet long.

raised garden bed

If you plant wild peas with grains like rye, it will happily erect the grain stems.

Let your wild peas grow for about 3 weeks before planting summer crops in the garden. Most growers like to cut down laver before it blooms to avoid planting it in the soil. However, if you don't mind planting fresh grapes from autumn, please enjoy the flowers.


As it mainly grows in winter, vetch has no problem with pests. You also rarely encounter disease problems. Winter weather kills most common pests and diseases before they have time to damage your crops.

But in early spring and late autumn, you may encounter some common pests.


No matter what you plant, these small pests are a problem, including wild peas. If you see aphids on the hairy crape myrtle, it's time to take out your trusty insecticide soap bottle. Whenever you see signs of aphid damage, spray the underside of the leaves.

If you have a large area of wild peas, be sure to add neem oil. Azadirachta azedarach oil reduces the chance for invasive aphids to have aphid babies, and starts aphid communities in your garden.

Snail and slug

Beer traps are essentially small cans of beer on the ground. The top of the tank should be level with the ground. Snails and slugs like beer. They are attracted by the smell of beer and drown themselves in it.

If you have ducks, you can also put them loosely in the mountains. Ducks are great slug predators. Once the wild pea has been established, your duck will not cause too much damage to it.

If you have problems with slugs or snails in the fall, stick with beer traps. Ducks devour young wild peas and all slugs.

raised garden bed


When your hairy grape flowers have grown up, it is time to remove the covering crops, cut your grapes at the bottom and let them fall. It will be harvested after about two months of growth in spring. Then cut the stalks through and as close to the soil as possible.

Once cut, the stem will dry. After about a week, you can put the dead plant materials in the soil and let it continue to release nutrients.

Plowing old plant materials into soil will help improve soil structure. It helps improve drainage and slowly releases its nutrients into the soil. This green fertilizer will provide an excellent basis for the growth of diazo feeds such as tomatoes and corn.

You can also feed wild peas to goats, rabbits and chickens, but never to horses or cows.