The Multiple Uses of Sunn Hemp & a New Tulsi Patch
Village Farm Team,
Sunn hemp is hands-down our favorite warm weather cover crop. This summer we’ve been exploring its multiple uses. The first and most important use is to improve the health of our soil. As sunn hemp grows, it fixes beneficial nitrogen to the soil. You can see the evidence of this in the photo below. The nodules that fix nitrogen are on the right side of the main root. In addition to fixing nitrogen while it is growing, sunn hemp can be mowed down and used as green manure in the furrows. This cover crop has also proved to be a great foraging option for our goats. It provides them with minerals and protein which has allowed us to cut back on their standard feed. As if it wasn’t doing enough for us already, sunn hemp also helps to control soil erosion and drainage. It’s truly a multi-purpose crop on the farm!
We planted a patch of multiple varieties of tulsi basil next to our buffer row of flowering plants by the Farm Club plots. Tulsi is a beloved herb of pollinators so we will be using this patch as a food source for them by allowing the herbs to flower. We’ll also be using this patch to scatter cut sunn hemp so we can observe how it breaks down and works as a weed suppressant. Tulsi is one of our favorite herbs so we are excited to see how the patch grows over the coming months.
Remember when we talked about the benefits of pruning perennial herbs in this post from a couple of weeks ago? We wanted to show you an example using our anise hyssop. In the middle, you can see the pruned plant putting out lots of healthy, new growth. It is flanked on either side by plants that have not been pruned. Once we prune the old growth from these, it will encourage new growth just like the plant in the middle!