Hairy Vetch is an annual sprawling cover crop used for soil improvement, including nitrogen fixation and erosion control. This is the most winter hardy of the vetches. Traditionally, it is sown into beds/fields as a cover crop with rye in the fall (September), where it serves to protect the soil over the winter. Come spring it is either added to compost piles by gardeners or tilled into fields, adding nitrogen and organic matter to the soil. Hairy Vetch can also be planted in the spring or summer. In gardens, plant it into bare soil areas as an effective cover crop for weed control. Grow it under tomatoes—studies have shown that it increases yield and disease resistance of tomato plants. If allowed to go to seed, Hairy Vetch will re-seed itself providing continual soil protection (it will not become too “weedy”). In order for vetch to do nitrogen fixation, seeds should be inoculated with “Pea/Lentil/Vetch” Rhizobium inoculant (see Growing Instructions). AL[[end tab]] [[start tab]]
Growing Instructions(for USDA zone 5b):
For best success, inoculate hairy vetch seeds with a "Pea/Lentil/Vetch" rhizobium inoculant available online. Store the inoculant in the refrigerator and replace it every several years.
Inoculate your seeds just prior to planting. To inoculate your Hairy Vetch seeds: Drop a couple drops of water on the seeds and shake or stir to disperse water. Sprinkle a bit of inoculant on the seeds and shake or stir to distribute the inoculant. Your seeds are now ready to be sown.
Direct sow from 3/15-9/30. Plant 1/2“ deep, 4 inches apart in each direction for full cover. Fall/late summer plantings will overwinter and grow vigorously in spring, suppressing weeds.
Till under during flowering stage for best nitrogren fixation, or cut down and add to compost piles (or leave as mulch). Will re-seed.