One of the new ways of farming and gardening is to use cover crops to improve the soil structure and nutrients, instead of the traditional tilling and chemical fertilizers.
Here’s a free book on the benefits of using cover crops on a farm. I’m going to try and bring some of these concepts to the home garden.
Managing Cover Crops Profitably.
Here’s another great source of Cover Crop Information from the USDA.
I decided to try this on a test area that I use mainly for tropical milkweed. It’s one of the few areas in my yard that is open enough to plant extra seed.
March 16th I planted the Interseed Mix from Walnut Creek Seeds. I used half the packet and will reserve half in case the first seeding does poorly. I will later on plant my milkweed and hope all the crops will co-exist.
Below is what the cover crop looks like on April 27th.
I next used my trimmer and cut most of plants down to a couple inches high so that I could plant my milkweed. I’m not sure how much the cover crop will recover.
You can see from the picture below that the cover crop came back dramatically and is growing faster than my milkweed in some places.
- Angelia Phacelia – pretty flower – dead by July 1st.
- Barley – gets large and turning brown around July 1st. I would not plant this again – too much maintenance.
- Crimson Clover – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 –
- Flax – poor germination
- Millet – poor germination.
- Radish – fast grower and tall – cut it down about June 1st.
Other Cover Crops
- Buckwheat = available on Amazon – Terminate within 7 to 10 days after flowering to prevent seed production. Note – mine got a bit tall and doesn’t look nice after flowering. Don’t plant this again
- Other Cover Crops
- Crimson Clover – doesn’t seem to have deep roots. Needs a fair amount of water to keep it going by itself.
- Try annual ryegrass in the fall.
Crimson Clover – planted in the fall.
Fall Cover Crops
This is another seed mix from Walnut Creek Seeds
Notes from video below.
- Legumes add Nitrogen, but they have to be inoculated – most come pre-inoculated.
- Crimson clover – his favorite cover crop – usually winter kills, makes a lot of Nitrogen.- earthworms love it – easy to kill.
- Radish tops scavenge more nitrogen than the tubers – don’t throw this away. Leave on the soil?
- http://plantcovercrops.com/ – articles are old.