bee forage

Crimson clover in bloom

A field of crimson clover.

Last week, Joy of Providence Farm in North Carolina wrote:

I wish I could upload a photo of our crimson clover cover crop! I planted it last fall and just in the past couple of weeks has it come into its own. I just broadcast sowed it so it is now a sea of beautiful red and green . . . and FULL of honey bees, bumbly-bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and other guests. I’ll have to cut it soon enough but in the mean time, I’ve got pollinators galore, food for my hives, something beautiful to look at, and “look, ma! NO WEEDS!” to speak of in that planting space.

So see it here: crimson clover in glorious bloom.

Honey bee on clover.
Honey bee on clover.


  • I have 10 pounds of crimson clover for my bees. The field is about 1/4-acre and is presently covered in wild grass that I keep mowed down a few times during the summer. Can I just use a broadcast seed spreader or will I need to have it tilled up before broadcasting the seeds?

    I don’t have access to a tractor or tilling machine. If I mow the field just before spreading the seeds is there a chance they will survive winter and sprout out next spring?

    From what I have read the seeds should be planted about a inch deep during the cooler part of fall. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Larry,

      I’ve read you can broadcast sow on existing grass pasture, so I assume you could do the same. I’ve also read you should surface sow or rake it in 1/8-inch. I think an inch is way too deep. Of course, it would take off better if the ground were tilled, but if you don’t want to till, then just broadcast. Whenever you have things to compete with new seeds they don’t do as well to start, but crimson clover is known for kind of taking over once it gets started.

        • Larry,

          I don’t know your location but if you have any cold weather you can frost seed into the existing pasture/field. It actually works quite well. Check the extension service sites on the internet for directions. Basically, in my area (western Virginia) it is done Feb/March about mid morning when the ground is warming after the night’s frost. The seed falls into the cracks and will sprout quite readily.

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