Growing Buckwheat as a Cover Crop – with John McCormick

John McCormick, owner of Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens is based in Co.Down in Northern Ireland. I have had John on the show twice before in 2012 to talk about organics, market gardening and his community box scheme (see links below). And now I am back for a third radio show. I’m beginning to suspect that John McCormick himself is one of Northern Ireland’s best organic products!

Like most gardeners I am keen to know the secrets of other organic gardeners’ fantastic vegetable yields in conditions similar to what we have in Dunedin. Northern Ireland has a similar temperate climate to Dunedin, plus heavy clay soils are common here – and of course it’s rather wet! John will no doubt have many tips for growing great vegetables but the thing I am here to talk to him about today is his use of buckwheat which plays an integral part in the health of his soil and also the management of his plantings.

Buckwheat is not a wheat, it is not even a grass. However its seeds are rich in nutrients and carbohydrates, and in times past the seeds when ground were used for flour as a staple.

But this is not what John uses his buckwheat for. Like a number of organic gardeners in Dunedin, John uses buckwheat as a very beneficial and successful cover crop.  He has been growing it for years and is passionate about its benefits to his organic market garden practice.

On the 15th September 2016, I spoke with John McCormick, organic market gardener, about growing and using buckwheat as a cover crop.

To listen to this programme about Growing and Using Buckwheat please click on

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to

For more information –

This show was originally broadcast on the 29th September 2016 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

John McCormick, owner and manager of Helen's Bay Organics

John McCormick, owner and manager of Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens


Silverbeet at helen's Bay Organics

Silverbeet growing at Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens


Buckwheatr after cutting - late summer

Buckwheat after cutting – late summer



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