By Lauren Arcuri
Small Farms Expert
Buckwheat is a much overlooked but really amazing crop for your small farm, homestead or hobby farm. It's a great cover crop, but it can be so much more, too. Learn the benefits and reasons you should consider growing buckwheat on your small farm this season.
1. Buckwheat is a Great Cover CropAs a cover crop, buckwheat rules. It grows so fast that you can cover the area with it quickly. Its fibrous, spreading root system breaks up your soil and increases aeration. And it smothers out weeds perfectly and tolerates poor soil and little water.
2. It Smothers Out WeedsBuckwheat grows really quickly and is great for smothering weeds, not just as a cover crop, but within your garden. Plant it with your veggie crops to help keep weeds low and your plants will thank you!
3. Buckwheat Deters PestsYup, not only does it smother the crap outta weeds, but buckwheat is a great crop to plant right in your garden, between the rows, to combat pests. Flying pests find it hard to navigate between buckwheat's dense growth, so they stay away from your tender veggies. Buckwheat will be a foot high in just a couple of weeks, so it isn't too late to add it to your anti-pest arsenal for this season.
4. Pollinators and Beneficials Love BuckwheatHoneybees and other pollinators and beneficial insects love buckwheat's flowers. Every garden needs more pollinators and the honeybees need all the help they can get.
Beneficials like hover flies and tachinid flies also supposedly love buckwheat. They'll deter other pests from your garden.
5. Animals Love to Eat BuckwheatIf your buckwheat grows out of control, snip it back and feed it to any of your farm animals. It makes perfect fodder! Chickens especially love buckwheat greens.
Be careful, though: it is toxic to some other animals.
6. People Love to Eat Buckwheat!It's also a human edible plant. Take the time to harvest the seeds, crush them into flour, and you have a terrific base for gluten-free pancakes and a value-added product for your farm.
7. It Makes Great Pillows, Too!Buckwheat hulls are used as filler for pillows and cushions, like meditation cushions, yoga bolsters, nursing pillows, travel pillows, neck pillows, aromatherapy pillows, eye pillows, and more. You can sew your own or just harvest the hulls (seeds), dry them and sell them as filling.
8. It Reseeds EasilyOkay, this can be a blessing and a curse, because I've heard warnings about letting buckwheat take over a garden, but buckwheat reseeds easily, and is the "gift that keeps on giving" for many gardeners and small farmers. Just beware if you want more control, you should pull it out before it goes to seed.