Protect your soil and save resources by planting cover crops this fall. Cover crops are non-edible annual plants that can be planted anytime in late summer or early fall. This is a technique that farmers have used for decades but home gardeners can use it too! Cover crops anchor soil in place. This prevents erosion and nutrient loss during winter rains and winds. Many cover crops also add nutrients back into the soil, increasing soil vitality! The goal is not to eat these plants but to allow them to protect and build your soil during the months that the soil would otherwise lay empty.
What to Plant
There are several different types of cover crops including many types of seed grasses like rye as well as different legumes like vetch and peas. You can mix and match different types of cover crop to add even more nutrition to the soil. The Evergreen Nursery has a full stock of various cover crops that are clearly labeled as such. If you aren’t sure what to get, ask our friendly staff.
How to Plant
No rows necessary! Sow your cover crop thickly, over the entire area you want to seed. We recommend over-seeding to allow for full coverage of all soil space. You can mix your different cover crop seeds together in a bag and broadcast widely by hand or with a spreader. Seeds can be covered with a thin layer of soil or just pressed right into the ground. Many farmers sow seeds and then just walk over the area softly to push them down. Water your seeds well over several days to allow for proper germination.
Your cover crop will grow and thrive over the winter months. Leave it alone until you are ready to use that soil space again in the spring. You can pull your cover crop and let it decompose into the ground for even more nutrient replacement. Or you can just add it to your compost pile. Rake your soil and plant as you normally would.
Questions? Come see us! Our knowledgeable staff can help you find the right cover crop for your space.