Why you need a cover crop for your garden while waiting for the growing season? The answer surely keeps you satisfied. They help repair, replenish, and revive tired soil without the use of harmful toxins. They also serve as a natural mulch, repel weeds, and even attract beneficial insects and pollinators to the garden. Cover crops are the dream of organic gardeners. They need to pay a little extra time and effort for them but these obviously bring them more.
We’ve rounded up 10 best cover crops to plant for your garden, and love to share them to you guys. Before picking your cover crop, you should consider your personal goals for your garden, the needs of your soil, and the region that you are planting in. By doing so, you can choose one that fits your garden. Start this project with seeds directly into the ground at the end or beginning of the growing season. Once your cover crop is mature (in flower season), till it over the area to make room for your new plants to flourish. Let’s get started!
Clover comes in different types and varieties, but serve the same purpose. They all boost nutrients in soil while absorbing nitrogen and returning it to the earth. Sow clover in summer or winter as cover crop.
#2 Austrian Winter Pea
This green manure is effective in preventing erosion, adding organic matter to the soil, and attracting helpful insects. These peas can also invert nitrogen and transfer it back to the soil, making it usable for the next plant. Austrian winter peas are planted in the fall, before the first frost.
If you are looking for cover crop for poorly managed, acidic, or sandy soil, rye is an excellent choice. Both annual and cereal varieties can prevent weed growth, control erosion and add organic matter. This hardy grass grows fast and is easy to kill at the end of the season. Plant rye in late summer or early fall.
Alfalfa is a mid-spring to midsummer cover crop. It’s often referred to as a complete natural fertilizer. It grows well in dry soil as its deep roots serve to improve the structure of the subsoil and convert nitrogen.
#5 Field Beans
Field beans are powerful in fixing nitrogen in the soil. This green manure is an excellent choice if you are dealing with a clay-heavy soil. Plant them in late autumn and leave through the winter to till.
#6 Fodder Radish
Fodder radish produces bountiful organic matter and improves soil structure. This green manure requires low-maintenance will decompose into the soil with little effort on your part. Plant this cover crop in the fall, and till into soil lightly in spring to complete the process.
#7 Hairy Vetch
This cover crop works well in Northern climates and can thrive over the winter, adding healthy nutrients back into the soil throughout the dormant season. Plant it in late summer or fall.
#8 Sorghum- Sudangrass
Sudangrass and sorghum go together and produce a voracious hybrid that provides all the benefits of both kinds of grass simultaneously. It can grow up to 12 feet tall, providing liberal amounts of organic matter. This cover crop may take over your garden when left unchecked. Plant it 7 weeks before first expected frost to prevent overgrowth.
This cover crop helps restore a healthy balance to the land and leave behind rich nutrients. Its broad leaves produces a thick ground cover that repel the growth of seeds, thereby cutting off their growth and ensuring a weed-less garden, reducing your work for the coming season.
Oats are definitely worth mentioning here. This green manure helps suppress weeds, scavenge nutrients, and prevent erosion. Sow it in early spring to midsummer if you live in a cooler climate.