Buckwheat adds nitrogen to garden plots, produces beautiful flowers and delicious pancakes.Each year I start my garden with grand visions of endless bounty. Something happens around the first part of July, though.By then, I’ve had plenty of squash and cucumbers, and even had a few choice tomatoes; basically, my stomach gets too full to keep up.Now, the spring vegetables are petering out, as well as some of those early squash and cucumbers. The stifling heat and humidity make going out in the garden almost impossible before 7 p.m.This year I have a plan to keep those garden beds from turning into pastureland. No, it’s not mountains of mulch or more hours with the hoe and tiller. It’s buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum).Buckwheat is an unusually fast-growing plant produced by commercial agriculture for its grain-like seeds. In the home garden, it is one of the best summer cover/green manure crops available.George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were some of the first American farmers to grow buckwheat, as they recognized its benefit in a healthy crop rotation. Native to Russia, the flexibility and adaptability led buckwheat to be grown on more than a million acres in the U.S. in the late 1800s.The grain is ground into flour and used in a variety of foods, from noodles in Japan to breakfast staples like cereal and pancakes in the U.S. I even had pillows made from buckwheat hulls when I lived in the tropical Pacific. The pillows are meant to be cooler because of the increased space for air. I never got past the crinkling noise I heard each time I moved.Buckwheat is easy to grow. Simply broadcast the seeds and lightly rake them in. A pound of seed is recommended per 500 square feet of garden space, or 3 ounces of seed per 100 square feet. You can’t really put too much seed down. Since it’s usually sold in bulk from the local feed store, it’s better to err on the side of too much. Buckwheat does not require highly fertile soils but will benefit from modest levels of nitrogen. Its many fine roots are well adapted to find lower levels of phosphorous, and when crop residues are returned to the soil, it becomes more available for other plants.Germination begins in about three to four days, and within 10 to 14 days, the ground should be fully covered with emerging leaves. This quick leaf cover protects the soil from erosion, retains moisture and shades out those dastardly weed seeds.Now just sit back, drink some iced tea and wait for the best part: the floral display that begins three to four weeks after planting. A large, dense planting will literally stop traffic. My neighbors tell me they always slow down to admire the 5-by-100-foot strip I planted along the roadside.The prolific flowers on buckwheat are a good nectar source for honeybees and other pollinators. The resulting honey is dark-colored and distinctly different in taste from clover or wildflower honey. The timing of flowering is also very beneficial to bees because midsummer is usually when there is less native forage available.Remember that those prolific flowers turn into a seed if allowed to develop and dry on the plant. If you do not want buckwheat carrying over into your next planting, cut the plants or till them under two to three weeks after flowering. Some farmers cut it and leave the plant residue on the surface as mulch, which will provide a premulched area for new transplants.
Interestingly, when he was alive, General Shagaya was fond of telling the story of how he prevailed on Omoluwa to be a member of the IBB Golf Club Board of Trustees.Shagaya mentioned that he picked on Omoluwa so there could be a sweet mix between the young and all other elderly members in the clubâ€™s Board of Trustees.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram A prominent member of the Board of Trustees of the IBB Golf Club in Abuja, Sir Lucky Omoluwa, has said that the passing of General John Shagaya (rtd) in a car crash last Sunday came to him as a rude shock.Omoluwa who received the sad news at the time he was about to preside over presentation of prizes at the last IBB Ladies Open believes the shocking demise of Shagaya would leave a yawning gap in the nation, especially the IBB Golf Club he helped build.Omoluwa also said that: â€œWithout Shagaya there could not have been the IBB Golf Club. The man served the club diligently and selflessly. I donâ€™t think we should allow all that to go away because the man is no longer around. We must immortalise him. I can only pray that God will grant him eternal rest. He was a good manâ€.