Depending on the time of the year, gardeners can sow their plots with a mix of cover crops. Keeping a low, green mulch of cover crops underneath and in-between your crops will improve soil health by increasing nutrient availability, maintaining soil moisture throughout the summer, protecting the soil from winter erosion, supporting a healthier soil microbial population and preventing soil compaction. Healthy soil will result in less stressed, healthier crops. In the end, maintaining your plot will be less labor-intensive and time-consuming.
Mixes of spring and summer cover crops include sweet peas, oats, and vetch. Spring and summer cover crops can be sown from April, and again in mid-August. Spring and summer cover crops will die over the winter, providing a natural and protective mulch.
Fall and winter cover crops include fall rye, whiter wheat, and ryegrass. Fall and winter cover crops can be safely sown under the vegetable crops at the end of the summer, but no later than September. Cover crops will not compete for nutrients or light with summer crops so there is no need to worry about your harvest. In the early spring, sprouting cover crops will deter the germination and establishment of weeds.
Cover Crops Available by Donation
Currently, we have packages of cover crops available from our Community Seed Library for a $5 donation to support our Seed Library Program. The mix includes an assortment of sweet peas, vetch and oats.
Each package contains enough seeds (100g) to sow up to large garden plot size (20 ft by 10 ft). If your plot is smaller then you will have seed leftover for the next season!
We will be supporting the establishment of the program with a series of cover crop workshops and demonstration gardens throughout the year. Stay tuned!