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This seems like a silly question, but I'm struggling to find an answer on google.

When does red clover go to seed? I am planting it now, in combination with Italian Rye, as a cover crop.

When do I need to turn it over by to prevent it going to seed, or is it likely to die over winter?

  • Did you rake in the seed? it may not germinate well lying on top, unless the ground is very soft. – J. Musser Sep 2 '14 at 15:20
  • I worked hard at the soil to make it a fine tithe, and raked it in. Removed about 3 wheelbarrows of stones from each bed as well. I swear this allotment used to be a quarry. – Oliver Sep 3 '14 at 7:10
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It's likely to go dormant over winter, but not die all the way. Around here (southeastern Pennsylvania), it goes back to 4-6 inches over winter. Red clover is extremely variable as to when it goes to seed, even in my own yard, but definitely more over the entire range of where it can grow, so there isn't really a 'time' when it will go to seed. But it should be next spring, not this fall.

For me, it usually ends up being in late April to late May, depending on the winter. Plow it under when the first flowers fade. Any later and they'll form seeds. The higher the nitrogen content in your soil, the longer the plant will put off flowering, and put it's energy into getting bigger. It can get up over waist height before flowering, in good conditions.

Make sure you don't seed too thickly, because rye is a very aggressive early spring grower, and will outpace the clover for a while. Make sure there is plenty of space for the clover to fill in. The clover can fill in sideways lots more than rye can.

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    Great answer, also good tip on sowing rye and clover together. I mixed the two in a bowl and broadcasted them but there was about 1/3 clover to 2/3 rye. Is it worth making a row of one or clumps or just spreading evenly? – Oliver Sep 2 '14 at 15:10
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    @Oliver Clover seed is far finer than rye seed, so even if it was only 1/3 by volume, there are more clover seeds than rye seeds. I have always broadcasted also, but I did spread one seed type and then the other, to make sure it was even. You might end up with more clover in some areas, and more rye in others, but that's fine. – J. Musser Sep 2 '14 at 15:15
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    I guess if you didn't mind 'stripy', you could plant them in alternating rows, but I think it looks more natural broadcast. – J. Musser Sep 2 '14 at 15:17
  • I've got several beds, so I might experiment. I'm not particularly fussed on how it looks, it'll get dug in anyway :) – Oliver Sep 2 '14 at 16:06
  • @Oliver don't get the seed lower than about 1/2" deep, or you will run into trouble with germination. 1/4" covering of loose, moist, soil is best. – J. Musser Sep 2 '14 at 16:16

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