Using Cover Crops to Build Spring Soil

By now, you probably have winter veggies in the ground or are getting ready to do so. Either way, throwing out some cover crop seed before (or during!) a nice rain will add quite the assortment of great benefits.

Reason to Cover Crop
~Builds soil above the ground with nitrogen rich plant matter
~Builds soil beneath the ground with its nitrogen pulling extensive root systems
~Increases biodiversity of plant and microbial life
~Keeps soil in place and prevents erosion and wash out with lots of roots
~Create good conditions for beneficial bugs, like lady bugs
~Promote better water retention by covering the soil with plant matter
~Grows with your spring plants and will help support them with nutrition too

Is planting cover crop difficult?
On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the easiest….I’d give it a 3 if all four steps are completed.
Step 1: Toss desired seeds in a bucket or bowl
Step 2: Add some sand for an extra medium
Step 3: Toss seeds everywhere you see bare soil
Step 4: Frolic (optional)

Winter Cover Crop Choices
Crimson Clover – is a beautiful medicinal cover crop that invites pollinators – dies in summer
Peas or vetch – legumes are some of the best nitrogen fixers – makes pretty purple flowers
Rye – can trap harmful nematodes in the soil, but must be aggressively cut to prevent seeding
Mustard – multiple varieties, some pleasantly edible, plant with others on this list, not exclusively
Radish – recommended for heavy clay soils, tops & roots are edible, taste varies

When Spring comes you can simply chop away the cover crop growth where you want to plant something new, or till it all back in with some fresh compost and your soil will thank you with beautiful fruits and vegetables that are full of nutrients.

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