This is a sponsored post on behalf of True Leaf Market.
Before this year, I’d never even thought of planting a cover crop in my back yard garden. That’s too bad, because cover crops are surprisingly easy to plant, a natural way to enrich and protect garden soil.
What Is A Cover Crop?
Cover crops, sometimes called green manure, are used not for their value as food. Instead, they’re used to improve the soil soil. Cover crops are made up of mainly legumes and grasses, but other varieties can also used as well.
Here’s the special home garden cover crop seed mix I chose to use: True Leaf Market cover crop mix.
Cover crops are usually grown off-season, and are ususally planted in late summer or in early spring, when the soil is not yet needed for growing the principal crops.
Why You Should Use A Cover Crop In Your Home Garden
Planting cover crops brings the same benefits for home gardens as they do for larger plots:
- Enriching the soil with nutrients. Cover crops are called living mulches for their ability to add nutrients to the soil in an organic way. They bring many of the same benefits as fertilizers, but in an all-natural manner.
- Reducing water drainage. Cover crops also lock moisture in the soil, and help prevent soil erosion.
- Reducing soil compaction. The roots of the plants used as cover crops are thin and long, which also means that they go down into the deeper layers of the soil, thus preventing the surface layers from hardening, and preventing the soil from getting compacted and hard.
Plant Varieties Used as Cover Crops
Here are some of the most efficient cover crops:
- Rye. Rye is especially good for preventing weeds and compaction.
- Clover . Clover is an excellent fertilizer that stabilizes the soil’s content of nitrogen, an essential element for any healthy crop.
- Buckwheat. Buckwheat is another potent ally in your fight against unwanted weeds.
What cover crop should I use?
For a home garden, chose a special home garden mix like this True Leaf Market cover crop mix.
It includes wheat, Australian field pea, triticale, forage collards, daikon radish, harry vetch, berseem clover, balansa clover, and yellow mustard.
How to Use Cover Crops in Your Garden
After picking a garden cover crop blend, all you need to do is to seed the soil in the right period, then wait for the crops to grow.
You can seed cover crops in either spring or fall, depending on the length of your growing season, and how harsh and cold your winter is.
I live in a 6a seeding zone, in the interior of British Columbia, and I chose to plant my cover crop early in the spring.
It was a pretty simple process. I just sowed the seeds according to the package directions, and let them grow for a couple of months.
Be sure you don’t let any of your cover crop go to seed!
When the cover crop has reached the right height, you can either:
- simply turn it under, using a rototiller or by hand
- run your lawn mower over the crop, and then turn under the remains.
Because I wanted to minimize the amount of work and time needed, I chose to just rototill my cover crop, rather than mowing it over first.
Your cover crop will take some time to decompose naturally, but the process will be complete when the time comes to plant your herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers.
Here’s the special home garden mix I chose to use: True Leaf Market cover crop mix. 1 lbs will cover about 600 square feet.
Have you tried planting a cover crop? What were your results?