Growing and Saving the Seeds Of Clover
Latin name Trifolium incarnatum is an cool-season annual in the legume family. This fairly cold-hardy plant (crimson clover survives down to -10 F) is often grown as a cover crop, planted in the late summer. It grows or goes dormant in winter then springs back to life and flowers in May. This winter annual is often planted in the garden to prevent erosion, nutrient loss, invasive weed encroachment and it acts as a green manure, adding nitrogen to the soil. Clover is also planted in orchards as a ground cover and to attract beneficial insects.
Native to Europe. Introduced to the U.S. as a cover crop in the 1800s, it was later discovered as a useful forage crop for pasture animals. Clover as a pasture crop has precipitously decreased since industrialized farming has replaced it with synthetic fertilizers.
- Cover crop
- Ground cover
- Fodder crop
- Visited by many beneficial insects
- Seeds germinate in 7-14 days.
- Plant 1/4- to 1/2 inch deep.
- Sow seeds in late summer to early fall, freely scattering seeds.
- Ideal germination temperature is 65-70 F.
- Prefers full sun but can grow in shade as well.
- It is a care-free plant, although the plants will require even, consistent moisture in order to thrive.
- Clover is an almost completely pest-free plant, but sometimes crown and stem rot can be an issue. This rot issue typically occurs in the cool, wet weather of fall, winter, and spring as a result of overcrowded foliage and poor airflow.
- Allowing animals to graze or cutting back foliage will help to improve air circulation.
- Seeds are ready to harvest when the flower centers turn brown and stems begin to yellow.
- Cut heads and crush and roll dried flower heads between your fingers to dislodge the seeds.
- Pour into a wire strainer or over a screen to separate chaff from seed.
- Store seeds in a cool, dark, dry place over winter.