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.
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