Hairy vetch is a hard-working, fast-growing cover crop, adding large amounts of nitrogen into the soil, benefiting the next crop. It grows quickly and densely, smothering and helping to prevent pesky weeds. At the bloom stage, it contributes the most nitrogen and is easiest to incorporate. It biodegrades quickly, needing just a few weeks of rest before sowing your next crop. Usually winter hardy in USDA zones 4 and warmer, resuming growth the following spring. While top growth may be slow in the winter, it acts as a blanket to your soil, preventing erosion from wind or water and the deep roots are still growing, feeding soil organisms, and improving soil structure and water retention. Fairly drought tolerant and also tolerant of temporary flooding.
Botanical Name: Vicia villosa
Days to Maturity: 60 Days
Native: Africa, Asia, and Europe
Hardiness: Frost-tolerant annual, winter hardy in USDA zones 4 and warmer
Plant Dimensions: 24″ tall; plants can reach 12' long
Variety Information: Hairy vetch is a sprawling legume with white to purple flowers, that is valuable for providing nitrogen to the soil. Some research shows that as a mulch, it can increase the subsequent crop's disease resistance.
Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
Attributes: Cold Tolerant
When to Sow Outside: 4 to 6 weeks before your average first fall frost date for a crop the following spring. Can also be sown in early spring or summer. Will germinate slowly in soil as cool as 40°F, more ideally 60°–75°F.
When to Start Inside: Not applicable.
Days to Emerge: 10 – 15 Days
Seed Depth: ½”
Seed Spacing: Scatter seeds about 3″ apart
Thinning: Not Applicable
This packet sows approximately 60 square feet. 60 sq ft.