Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cover Crops by Amanda Dowdy

Its a safe bet that those veggie plots and annual beds have worked hard this year, and even if they haven't, it may be a good idea to give them some TLC! The Autumn harvest brings many chores, but this one may prove to be so beneficial, you'll be happy to add it to your clean up routine. Cover crops, or green manure, are grasses or legumes like winter rye, crimson clover and hairy vetch, that can be planted in early spring or fall. 
Winter Rye in Raised Bed
Higher altitudes should plant sooner as some varieties will winter kill faster than others, yet others like winter rye may show growth throughout the winter season. These crops protect the soil from erosion and suppress weed growth. Also tilling the crop into the earth in spring improves the soil structure and may fix extra nitrogen.  Its a small step that has a great payoff, so start thinking about next year's bounty and give your garden a boost! Check out Plant Talk 1607 and 1616 as well as some great literature out there. Good luck and happy harvesting!