'Hairy Vetch', also known as ‘Sand Vetch’, ‘Winter Vetch’, and ‘Woolypod Vetch, among others, is native to most northern areas of Europe and Asia. Although not indigenous to North America, it is now cultivated in nearly all parts.
Historically it has been used as fodder for dairy cows. It is thought to improve the quality and increase the production of milk. As a nitrogen fixing legume, we use it as part of our green manuring / cover crop mix to help improve the soil in our fields.
'Hairy Vetch' will grow quite dense and luscious and reach about twelve – twenty inches in height. It can be sown in most areas in early fall or early spring. Although it will sprout and get established, winter growth will be minimal but will take off when the right spring conditions arrive.
Like most field and cover crops, broadcast sow the seeds onto well prepared soil and then scratch in so that good soil contact is made. Seeds should not be covered more than 3/4 of an inch. In a pinch, I have surface sown onto freshly tilled garden areas, just before a predicted rain, and that was good enough to establish a nice stand of plants.
Which brings up this point . . . They are very easy to start from seed. Too easy in fact. What this means is that if you are using them as a cover crop like we do, mow the plants as soon as flowering occurs. Don't let them go to seed or you will be weeding stragglers that germinate throughout the gardening season.
One ounce is approximately 1260 seeds, and will cover about 70 square feet of garden space. One pound will cover roughly 1000 square feet.