With winter just around the corner, you should start thinking about how to protect your garden from these upcoming cold months and how to properly prepare it for the spring. You can never start prepping your garden too early. Cover crops are perhaps the first step in allowing your garden to be in its best condition for the following spring. In this article, I will show you why cover crops are so important and what their benefits are, in addition to which crops are good for the fall/winter season.
In order to keep your soil’s quality high, keeping it covered during fallow periods is incredibly important. That is where cover crops come in. Between planting commercial crops and harvesting, you must maintain some of the moisture of the soil in order to ensure a healthy garden in the spring. Cover crops have many benefits; they improve the overall fertility and stability of your soil. They mobilize and recycle nutrients, control weeds and pests, energize crop production, help protect and improve the quality of the soil, add organic matter to the soil, solve compaction problems, reduce chances of flooding, maintain nitrogen in organic form to prevent it from leaching and cut fertilizer costs! The benefits are basically endless and keep on giving all year round. Now that the importance and benefits of cover crops have been discussed, what cover crops are good for this time of year?
After mid-September, certain fall forage crops such as oats and legume plants are no longer in their peak season. October is the month to start focusing on your garden’s needs for the spring and planting cereals instead. For example: Winter Rye, Triticale, Barley, Crimson Clover, Ryegrass, Hairy Vetch and Buckwheat. These will produce good yields of high quality forage for the following spring. Rye will grow in the quickest in the spring while Wheat and Winter Triticale will be easier to manage because they develop slower.
So know that you know why cover crops are so important and beneficial to our gardens and what cover crops should be used for this upcoming winter season, your garden will be in great shape for the spring!
-Brandi, TTM Intern