Tares are a flowering legume in the pea family, a fast growing annual plant, with scrambling growth habit and numerous lateral branches. With blue-purple flowers (occasionally white) it is noted for attracting wildlife including bees and butterflies.
The flowers produce erect dark pods that each contains four to twelve large, round grey-black seeds.
Used in agriculture, tares are grown for feed for ruminants; they are protein rich with a high nutritional value. Grown as both a forage crop and for haymaking they are tolerant of light mowing and will re-grow in pastures after moderate grazing. In agriculture they are often grown with a companion cereal species, such as rye to avoid lodging and harvesting difficulties which occur with monocultures (the planting of one species).
Vicia sativa, also known as ‘Tare’ or simply ‘the Vetch’, is the largest, most vigorous leguminous plant in the Vicia genus. During the spring it will grow dense green foliage that makes it ideal for use as green manure. It can be planted throughout the autumn or spring planting seasons and yield high quality plants. Vetches are valued for their use both as a short term catch crop or green manure. The plants are able to fix large quantities of nitrogen from the air in root nodules; they are fast growing, are winter hardy and adapted to a wide range of soils.
Sowing Period: March-May or July-October for overwintering
Soil: Adapted to a wide range of soil. An excellent choice for heavy soils. Not recommended for acidic or dry soils.
Growing Period: 2 to 3 months or overwinter.
Coverage: 22kg per acre - 100gm covers 18 square metres
Vetch or Tares (Vicia sativa)
As a green manure Tares are an excellent choice for heavy soils, it produces a lot of bulky foliage that suppresses weeds, adds organic matter and improves the texture of the soil. It is easy to dig in. This hardy annual can be sown in spring to dig in later in summer or in autumn to overwinter. (through October if the weather is mild).
As it fixes nitrogen tares are especially useful for planting before any leafy crop such as brassicas. It leaves readily available nitrogen for these hungry crops. Where additional weed suppression is required it can be mixed with Rye
Sowing: March-May or July-October for overwintering
Prepare the soil by removing weeds, digging over if it hasn't been recently cultivated and raking level. Scatter seeds over the surface of the soil. Plant no deeper than 2cm (¾in) into the soil. Make sure the seed is in firm contact with the soil by gently tapping over the surface with the back of a spade. Water in well.
Vetches are susceptible to drought in early establishment, water if it doesn’t rain.
Bare patches should be covered within two to three weeks and plants will do the most good if they are left for around eight weeks before digging in.
When it is not being grown for seed it should be mowed down shortly after it starts to flower, in order to avoid problems with volunteer seedlings in the next crop. If plants start to flower before this, cut off the tops and dig in. Leave the green manure to decompose in the soil for up to four weeks before growing vegetables.
Don’t forget !
Rotate green manures as you would any other crop. Winter Tares is part of the pea family so do not sow on ground before legumes in a crop rotation plan as can lead to the build up of harmful pests and diseases.
There's something about growing cover crops makes a person feel like a farmer!
- Additional Information
Common Name Vicia sativa. Vetch. Legume Other Common Names Green Manure, Cover Crop Genus Vicia Species sativa Hardiness Hardy Annual Flowers Blue-purple flowers (occasionally white) Natural Flower Time Summer Soil Adapted to a wide range of soils, but not recommended for acidic or dry soils. Time to Sow March-May or July-October for overwintering Time to Harvest 2 to 3 months or overwinter. Coverage 22kg per acre - 100gm covers 18 square metres