Description. Spring vetch is an annual plant of the Legume family. Spring vetch, it is also called a common vetch – is a green fertilizer, fodder and nectariferous crop. As a green manure crop vetch is very valuable for its precocity (one of the highest among legumes), which makes it possible to use in intermediate sowing (before winter crops or after winter crops and early ripening spring cereals and vegetables).
Upon decomposition in the soil, the biomass of the vetch becomes a high-digestible fertilizer, which replenishes the soil with organics, humus. Nodule bacteria develop in the roots of the plant, with the help of which it receives nitrogen from the air and accumulates it, in this connection it is a very good precursor for crops that are demanding for nitrogen.
Spring vetch is grown for green fertilizer as an intermediate crop. It is necessary to carry out sowing from early spring (then the harvest is the highest) until August 5th. Sometimes it is sown as a cover crop for annual and perennial grasses: in the beginning the grasses grow slowly and the vetch protects them from weediness. With intensive growth of herbs, the vetch is mowed over them and is applied as mulches on free plots or composted with peat, manure, etc.
Common vetch flowers in June-July. Fruits ripen at the end of July. Vetch is a cold-resistant plant and tolerates frosts up to -4-6°C well, and its seeds can be form already at 2-3°C.
The plant is hygrophilous, especially during bud formation, flowering and ripening of beans.
Spring vetch is unpretentious to the soil quality, but it does not tolerate swamping, acidified, light soils and alkaline soils.
Common vetch is a light-loving crop. It blossoms throughout the day, therefore, it is a wonderful nectariferous crop.
Like many legumes, the stems of the spring vetch fall to the ground without additional support, so when its growing in a pure form, it must be tied up or trellis net should be set up along its rows. You can mix vetch crops with sunflower and corn, which will also perform the role of supports for the vetch stems.
It is good for the vegetable garden as a green manure crop in the form of the predecessor of tomatoes, pepper and other seedlings. Sown in August, it grows in spring from the sprouts in the lower part of the stems and increases the green mass, which is cut after the seedlings planting.
It requires well-cultivated nutrient soils of medium mechanical composition, well moistened with a weakly acid reaction.
Application. Spring vetch is useful as a green manure crop, but it is also used as a wonderful vitaminized food for animals. In addition, the plant can be mowed off early in the spring – just when the animals need fresh greens most of all. As a feed for cattle common vetch is also of great value, it is proved that the nutritional value of the vetch is higher than the one of lupine and peas, it is on par with clover. In addition, it is also excellent nectariferous crop: this advantage will be especially interesting for those who keep the apiary on their farmland.
Besides, the spring vetch drains, improves the structure of the soil, increases its air and moisture capacity. It protects the soil from water and wind erosion, moreover, keeps the snow, reduces soil freezing, which contributes to a greater accumulation of moisture.