What Are COVER CROPS and Why Should I Plant Them in My Garden??



The use of cover crops is growing in popularity with home gardeners, especially rye grass, hairy vetch, or these other varieties. If planted thickly, cover crops provide many of the benefits of mulch. Hairy vetch is a legume (it takes nitrogen out of the air and makes it available for plant growth), and it enriches the soil in a way that mulch does not.

Cover crops should be planted around late September or early October so they have a chance to get established before the weather becomes very cold.



Buckwheat:

Especially valuable for its release of phosphorus, buckwheat also contributes a significant amount of organic matter. Very competitive with weeds, good for breaking up the soil. Can grow two crops in the north.

Bees love Buckwheat!  Good bugs love buckwheat!
Seed when ground is well warmed and after last spring frost; it has no frost tolerance. When June planted, in 35 days it is waist high, in bloom and ready to plow under. Good to follow with a fall crops of rye and Austrian winter pea. Just rake in some seed after harvesting an annual crop and buckwheat will keep out the weeds and look great doing it. Green Lacewing adults will feast on the nectar then deposit their "aphid lion" eggs on nearby garden crops.

Order Buckwheat Seeds Now > 



Fall & Winter Rye: 

Very hardy, valued for its ability to break up hard pan soils with a profusion of roots and root hairs. Suppresses weeds, adaptable to a wide range of soil and climate conditions. Can plant from early spring until the ground freezes as a winter cover crop. Plant in fall with winter peas for nitrogen, organic matter and weed suppression. Planting rate: 3lbs per 1,000 sq ft. 

Order Fall & Winter Rye Seeds Now >




Yellow Clover: 

Tremendous green manure and bee pasture. Vigorous grower with long tap roots to help break up compact soil. Can produce up to 125 lb. of nitrogen per acre. Sow in the spring or summer. Planting rate: 1/2 lb per 1,000 sq ft.

Order Yellow Clover Seeds Now >





Crimson Clover:

Planted spring, summer or fall, this quick growing clover is the most versatile variety for a green manure to enrich soil. Needs good moisture. Flowers are used for tea. Excellent forage and cover crop. Planting rate: ½ lb. per 1,000 sq. ft.

Order Crimson Clover Seeds Now >




White Dutch Clover: 

Perennial. A low-growing perennial clover that forms a nice mat perfect for pathways between beds. It competes well against quckgrass and, although the plants grow over into the beds, they can easily be pulled back with a rake before mowing. As a green manure/cover crop, it fixes nitrogen and since it's perennial, can be plowed in at any time. Pre-inoculated seed. Plant in early spring: April-May. Planting rate: ½ lb per 1,000 sq. ft.; 8-10 lbs per acre for dry land, 10-12 lbs per acre for irrigated land.

Order White Dutch Clover Seeds Now >





Hairy Vetch: 

Valuable soil-improvement crop. Vigorous legume produces huge amounts of nitrogen-rich biomass for turning under. Can be planted in the spring through late summer. Late summer (late August early September) planted vetch will winter over, growing vigorously the following spring. Can be mixed with oats or rye for maximum weed competition. Hardy; will also sprout in the spring if planted before the ground freezes in November (like winter rye). Demands fairly fertile soil and adequate rainfall as is shallow-rooted. Livestock caution: Seeds are poisonous. Planting rate: 1 lb per 1,000 sq ft.

Order Hairy Vetch Seeds Now >



 

As the weather becomes consistently cold, you can work at preparing your garden for winter. There are several aspects to winter garden preparation you should pay attention to.  

  1. cleaning and putting away tools,
  2. use of mulch and/or planting of cover crops, and
  3. planting of certain crops that will survive the winter and grow early in the spring (view a list of cold hardy plants).

Putting away hoses, sprinklers, and other tools should take relatively little time. Hoses and sprinklers always have some water in them, and when it freezes and expands, it can damage these tools. For this reason, hoses and sprinklers should ideally go in a place where they will not freeze. If this is not possible, put them in any sheltered place.

Now is also a good time to clean the soil off tools like spades, hoes, and rakes and put them in any sheltered place – cold alone won’t hurt these tools, but exposure to wind, rain, and snow will damage the handles and loosen the heads.

Dry off any floating row covers you may have used, fold them up, and put them away in a sheltered place. Gather up any wooden stakes and other wooden structures you have built and stack them under shelter to reduce rotting. Tomato cages and metal stakes should be pulled out of the soil but left outside – the exposure to the elements will help kill any disease-causing organisms that may be on them.


Whether you choose to mulch or plant a cover crop throughout your garden after your vegetables are gone is up to you (as a third option, many gardeners choose to do nothing at all, but just leave the garden exposed over the winter). A cover crop is a crop planted primarily to manage soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife in an agroecosystem.

Cover crops are of interest in sustainable agriculture as many of them improve the sustainability of agroecosystem attributes and may also indirectly improve qualities of neighboring natural ecosystems.  
Use of mulch is recommended – you could cover your whole garden with as much as 15 cm (6 in) of mulch in the form of newspaper, straw, or leaves, possibly putting compost, manure, or another soil amendment underneath the mulch.

Previous Next

👇 MORE ARTICLES & BLOG POSTS 👇 

SPRING & SUMMER GARDENING:

Spring Gardening Chore Checklist - View

Herbs & Veggies to Plant NOW for a Summer Garden - View

Heat Loving Veggies & Herbs You Can Grow RIGHT NOW in Summer! - View

12 Plants That You Can Grow This Summer To DETER Mosquitoes - View

Have a Better Summer Garden With These 7 Tips! - View

 

FALL & WINTER GARDENING:

5 Fall Vegetables Worth Growing In Containers This Year - View

Grow a Fall/Winter Harvest - Plant these seeds in July/August - View

Planting a Fall Garden. Step-by-Step - View

How to Store Vegetables for Winter - View

10 Vegetables You Can Over-Winterize - View

19 Frost Hardy Vegetables to Plant this Fall - View

Fall and Winter Gardening Made Easy - View

16 Crops To Plant NOW for Fall! - View

15 Vegetables You Should Be Planting NOW for a Fall Harvest - View

Tips for Starting Your First Fall Garden & 19 Crops That Can Withstand Freezing (or almost freezing) Temperatures! - View

Gardening Chores for January - View

Our TOP 10 Favorite Fall & Winter Gardening YouTube Videos! - View

19 Crops You Should Try Growing This Fall or Winter - View

TOP 9 QUICK GROWING CROPS FOR FALL & WINTER - View

It's Winter!  What to do in the garden now?! - View

Most Popular Seeds to Plant Now for Fall/Winter Gardening - View


SEED STARTING:

6 Tips That Every NEW Gardener Should Know  - View

Tips for Successfully Starting Your Seeds Indoors - View

Egg Carton Seed Trays - View

Use Muffin Tins To Start Your Seeds In! - View

How do I Know Which Seeds to Direct Sow and Which to Seeds to Start Indoors? - View

How to Get Better Germination From Your Seeds - View

9 Steps to Harden Off Seedlings - View

7 Tips For Using Rockwool To Start Your Seeds - View

Are you starting enough seeds? - View

What's the proper way to thin seedlings? 🌱 🌱 - View

Seed Planting & Spacing Cheat Sheet - View

WAIT!  Don't start these seeds indoors yet! - View

OK!  It's time to start these seeds indoors NOW! - View


RAISED BED GARDENING:

Tips on Building Perfect Raised Beds! - View

How to make a Hugelkultur Bed & What the heck is a Hugelkultur? - View

Great Materials For Making Raised Beds! - View

Build The Benefits of Raised Beds - View

How To Plant a Straw/Hay Bale Raised Bed - View


CONTAINER GARDENING:

5 Simple TIPS to Growing Herbs in Containers - View

6 Tips for Gardening in Containers - View

9 of The Best Vegetables to Grow in Small Gardens  - View

5 Fantastic Tips for Watering Your Container Garden - View

Small Space Gardening Ideas For Your Boat or RV - View

 

RANDOM POSTS:

Why You Should Join a Community Garden - View

Inspirational Gardening Quotes! - View

How To Make A Bean Teepee - View

How to Build a Vine Tee-Pee - View

How To Grow & Care For Your Strawberry Plants - View

How to Grow Perfect Parsnips - View

How Do You Cure Potatoes? - View

How To Tell When An Eggplant Is Ripe - View

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Squash Blossoms - View

4 Easy Steps to Dry & Cure the Small Ornamental Gourds You Grew! - View

8 Gardening Hacks You Need to Know - View

Tips for Growing More Food Indoors, All-Year-Long! - View

Everything you need to know about gardening through all the seasons - View

14 Green Fruits and Vegetables You Should Be Eating - View

How to Use a Mason Jar as a Cloche - View

Are You a First Time Gardener? Start Here! - View

5 Season Extension Techniques for Year-Round Gardening - View

32 Edible Perennials (or plants that can ACT like Perennials!) - View

How to Grow Your Own Salsa Garden - View

How To Make a Pizza Garden - View

How To Successfully Plant a Straw/Hay Bale Garden - View

The Secret to Building a Salad Keyhole Garden - View


SPROUTS & MICRO-GREENS:

How to Grow Sprouts at Home *Without Soil*  - View

How to Sprout Wheat Berries at Home in a Mason Jar - View

How to Grow Sprouts Easily at Home Using a Mason Jar-View

Micro-greens! The Benefits are anything but MICRO! - View


ANIMALS & PETS:

What to Plant for a Pet Friendly Garden - View

Which Plants Do Bunnies, Cats, Dogs, and Chickens Like to Eat? - View

How To Supplement Your Animal Feed by Growing Fodder at Home - View


WATERING:

Ways To Conserve Water in Your Vegetable Garden - View

8 Tips on How to Water More Efficiently - View


COMPOST, MULCH,  & SOIL AMENDMENTS:

Composting DO's and DON'Ts - View

18 Things You Should Never Compost - View

Your Vegetables Like Coffee, Just As Much As You Do! -   View

How to Use Coffee Grounds In Your Garden - View

How to Use Eggshells in Your Garden - View

How To Use Seaweed In Your Garden  - View


 


 

PESTS & PROBLEMS // GARDEN CONTROL:

Common Gardening Problems & How to Cure Them - View

How To Attract Beneficial Ladybugs Into Your Garden - View

Common Problems In the Garden and How To Fix Them! - View

3 Ways to Kill Weeds Naturally & Quickly - View

Learn How to Recognize and Prevent Mosaic Virus in Your Garden - View

4 Trap Plants You Should Be Growing To Help Deter Pests - View

8 Ways To Get Rid of Garden Pests (Without Any Chemicals!) - View

Natural Pest Control Methods - View

HELP!  My Plants are Tall, Thin, and Leggy.  What should I do? - View

How to Control Powdery Mildew, the Easy Way! - View

Plant THESE To Attract More BEES! - View

15 Plants That Repel Mosquitoes - View

Plants That Naturally Repel Mosquitoes - View

Use Beer To Kill Slugs - View

BEER = An Effective Method for Slug Control [Who Knew!?] - View

Why Won't My Root Veggies Grow? - View

How do You Use Epsom Salts to Fertilize Your Plants? - View


FLOWERS // HERBS // POLLINATORS:

Treat Your Ailments Naturally With Homegrown Herbs -  View

15 Herbs You Can Grow at Home To Make Your Own Tea - View

10 MUST GROW Plants for Herbal Tea Lovers - View

How to Grow an Indoor Herb Garden - View

Top 4 Air Purifying Herbs You Can Grow Indoors - View

11 Easy To Grow Medicinal Herbs - View

Healing Herbs That Anyone Can Grow at Home - View

Top 6 Culinary Herbs You Never Knew You Could Grow Indoors, During Winter! - View

27 Plants That Produce Edible Flowers - View

38 Edible Flowers To Plant In Your Garden - View

PRO Tips for Growing Wildflowers Successfully - View

How to Grow Beautiful and Healthy Sunflowers - View

Save the Bees! Plant a "Bee-Friendly" Garden Today! - View

 

LETTUCE,  SALAD, & LEAFY GREENS:

7 Tips and Tricks for {Fresh} Lettuce {Longer} - View

How to Grow a "Cut and Come Again" Salad Bar Garden - View

Make Ahead "Salad in a Jar”- View

The Secret to Building a Salad Keyhole Garden - View


PEPPERS:

How Hot Will My Peppers Be? Scoville Scale Heat-Ranking for Hot Peppers! - View

Tips on How To Successfully Germinate Hot Pepper Seeds -View

15 Super HOT Varieties Every Pepper Enthusiast Must Try! - View

Tips for Germinating HOT & SWEET Pepper Seeds - View

 

TOMATOES:

4 Ways to Ripen Green Tomatoes - View

Tips for Controlling Tomato Hornworms - View

How to Plant Tomatoes the Right Way - View

How to Make Pickled Tomatoes, In Just 5 Minutes - View

Spank Your Tomatoes! -Get More Fruit on Every Plant- - View

14 Companion Plants to Grow With Your Tomatoes! - View

 

GREENHOUSE:

Tips for Growing Better in a Greenhouse - View


HOOP HOUSE:

How to Build a "Hoop House" for your Fall and Winter Gardening! - View


HYDROPONICS & TOWER GARDEN:

15 Lettuce & Leafy Greens You Should Try Growing Hydroponically - View

80 Plants You Can Grow with Vertical Towers and Hydroponic Garden System! - View

How to Plant a Vertical Tower Garden - View

These are the most popular ways to grow food, Vertically! - View

Aquaponics: Why It Works! - View

Make A Vertical Planter with Terracotta Pots - View

 

SHADE:

How to Grow Vegetables and Herbs in Partial Shade - View

Which Vegetables & Herbs Grow Best in Light - Partial Shady Gardens?  - View


HEAT & DROUGHT:

Heat-Loving Varieties that Grow Great in the Southern States - View

33 Drought Tolerant Crops For Dry or Hot Climates - View

 

DIY PROJECTS:

How To Make Your Own Seed Tape - View

Make Ahead "Salad in a Jar”- View

Make a Tic Tac Toe Game For Your Garden - View

How to Make Watermelon Candy - View

[DIY] Honey-Lavender Luffa Gourd Soap - View

 

CANNING & PICKLING // RECIPES:

Everything You Need To Start Canning Your Homegrown Vegetables! - View

How Do I Can My Homegrown Vegetables? View

Best Crops to Grow For the Home Canner - View

How to Grow & Pickle Homegrown Peas - View

Create Easy Pickled Radishes in Less Than 5 Minutes - View

Which Vegetables are Best to Ferment? - View


OTHER RECIPES:

This is how you make the best hummus dip! DIY Recipe - View

How To Make Amazing Zucchini Chips - View

How to Make a Stuffed Zucchini Crocodile - View

7 Awesome Mint Drink Recipes - View

How to Roast Garlic in the Oven - View

 


 

••●••

Continue Shopping