18 Sep Cover Crops- Build Healthy Soil
We are thrilled to announce that we are now carrying four types of cover crops. Also called “green manure”, cover crops are planted, allowed to grow, then cut down, left to dry a few days, then turned into the soil. This adds organic matter and contributes to healthy soil life.
Hairy vetch andDutch white clover are legumes. That means that they fix nitrogen from the air which is then added to your soil. This is huge. The key to using them is to plant them now (the soil is very warm) and let them grow for the rest of the fall. Don’t let them flower; cut them down and turn them in before they flower or they will reseed in your garden- you do NOT want that. Instead, this mass of nutrient-rich vegetation will help you build the best soil you have ever seen.
Buckwheat is not a legume. It does not fix nitrogen, but it’s very good at adding organic matter to the soil and smothering weeds.
Winter rye can be sown until early November as it germinates in very cool soil. If it doesn’t put on enough top growth late in the season, it will overwinter and start to grow again in the spring. Again, you cut it down just before it begins to flower.
Using cover crops is a good alternative to covering your beds with shredded leaves or straw when the season is over. It is an age old tradition that is invaluable in organic gardening today.