Cover Crops For Your Gardens Health

quilt

No, not this kind of cover

This information is very generic. I have visitors from as far North as the Norway and South to Australia and New Zealand. Visitors come from the deserts of Saudi Arabia and the rain forest of central Africa and the Amazon areas of South America. Keep in mind that when it is Fall in my little Oklahoma garden it’s Spring planting time in Australia.

A good cover crop for your garden in general, is any desirable non-invasive crop (plants) planted in your garden space(s) that you plan to mow/till into your garden soil before planting your vegetable crops.

A cover crop will:
* Prevent or at least limit erosion from rain(water) run off and winds that will blow away your valuable garden top soil.
* Cover Crops that will compete and prevent the germination of undesirable weeds.
* Cover crops add humus to your garden soil.(Green manure).
* Improve water retention of moisture in sandy soils.
* Improve drainage in heavy clay soils.
* Legumes like clovers and peas will fix and add nitrogen to your garden soil.

Few cover crops will stand up and survive the cold, snow and ice of winter. Winter wheat if established before your first hard freeze is a good choice. Winter wheat seed can be found at most farm store. However seed wheat generally comes in 50 pound bags. Seed wheat in my area cost about $12.00 a bag. Seed not used in planting cover crops is fed in my wild bird feed mix, to my chickens, pig and cows.

Spring planted cover crops may be clovers, rye grass, oats, barley or other cereal grains. Check with your local agriculture extension service for information on good cover crops to plant in your area. Many Universities have very good fact sheets on selecting and growing cover crops.

*—–Crop —-* *—-Planting Dates—-*
* Cereal rye Late Aug.-Late Oct.
* Winter wheat Late Sept.-Late Oct.
* Spring oats Late Aug.-Early Sept.1
* Spring barley Late Aug.-Early Sept.1
* Winter triticale Late Aug.-Late Oct.
* Annual ryegrass Late Aug.-Mid Sept.
* Hairy Vetch Late Aug.-Early Sept.1
* Common Vetch Late Aug.-Early Sept.1
* Austrian winter peas Early Sept.-Late Sept.1
* Crimson Clover Late Aug.-Early Sept.1
* Fava bean Early Oct.
* Rape Late Aug.
* Mustard Late Aug.
* Turnip Late July-Early Aug.

Not from the USA. Please leave me comment about your home town and country.

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12 responses to “Cover Crops For Your Gardens Health

  1. I’ve never done a cover crop, but may give it a shot this year.

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  2. I think I’ve accidentally done this with strawberry plants. I let them spread throughout the garden during the last month and I’ll cut them back next year when I plant. Other than that, I had no idea about cover plants, thanks!

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  3. Again, such good information.

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  4. I’ll be planting a garden full of mustard greens! My parents and grandparents love them.

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  5. I might have to head up to the feed store, never thought to look there for this kind of thing. Now that you mentioned it, a cover crop would be the perfect thing for my empty vegetable beds…. I just didn’t feel like fall gardening this year, too dry.

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  6. Super informative. I was just having a discussion with a friend from Pacific North West about our gardens. I’m in Southern California. She suggested crimson and clover. I have never ever done a cover crop but now that I talked to her and after reading this. I think I will give it a try. Thank you.

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  7. Will be getting our own cover crops this week.

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  8. Great post! I do have one question for you regarding sunflowers. We grew some this year and want to save the seeds for next year. Should we cut the sunflower head off and let it dry to get the seeds out, or do you just leave it on the stalk?

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