So you’ve harvested your summer crops and have bare garden beds. As discussed in previous posts, you can start your fall and winter crops in these beds. But what if you’ve decided to let your beds rest?
If you’ve decided to let your garden beds rest, you can plant some cover crops to help out your beds for the springtime. A couple of tips on why cover crops are great:
- Reduces erosion. This is especially helpful in areas of high rain (sound familiar?) during the resting season.
- Helps to improve soil fertility. Cover crops help to add nutrients to the soil such as nitrogen and organic matter, once turned under in the early spring. Microorganisms are also increased with cover crops.
- Weed suppression. The cover crop will help to smother the weeds that may find their way into your garden.
- Habitat. The cover crops can help local beneficial insects with shelter and a food source.
A couple of cover crops are buckwheat, corn salad (mache), rye grass, clover, oats and others. Be sure to wait about three weeks after turning the cover crop over to plant spring vegetables. There are some cover crops that emit some compounds that reduce the growth of other plants and this wait time will allow for the compounds to leave the soil.
So, a cover crop can be very helpful for producing nothing! Odd sounding isn’t it? Next time you a going to leave a bed rest, think about cover cropping!