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Vicia villosa

Vicia villosa
hairy vetch
Vicia villosa

Common name hairy vetch
Family fabaceae
Life cycle annual
Flowers purple
Size rambling
Light sun-part shade
From seed sow directly outdoors in late summer

Hairy vetch is commonly used as a cover crop - since it is a legume, its roots, working in cahoots with soil bacteria, help to fix nitrogen, which in turn can feed crops that are grown subsequently. In fact, that's how this plant made its way into our garden - we planted it, in conjunction with winter oats as a vertical support, one year in early fall, and sure enough, the combination covered our vegetable garden nicely. But since I work the veggie garden manually, turning them under in spring was hard work - I've been too lazy to repeat the feat in subsequent years. The oats are long gone, but the vetch has returned, as individual plants in nooks and crannies, every year since then. It no longer serves much of a useful purpose, but I still like the purple flowers, and it never gets in the way too much. In that way, it's much like borage (also an annual) - we don't purposely maintain their stands, but appreciate when they come back.

This plant used to grow in our garden, but it slipped away...

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