Cover Crops/Green Manure

You may have heard the terms "cover crops" and "green manure" before, especially when reading about farming practices, but did you know that these amendments can be used with great success in your garden?

We will go over what both are, and how to best use them in your garden.

What is a cover crop?

A cover crop, also called green manure is something you grow in your garden FOR your garden and not your plate. A cover crop helps regenerate your soil by adding biomass and nutrients back into the soil. If you know what your soil needs you can choose the right cover crop.

Farmers have been using cover crops for centuries to rejuvenate their soil for their next crop. Home gardeners can easily use this practice as well.

Types of Cover Crops

Legumes are a great way to add nitrogen back into the soil, converting nitrogen from the air and bringing it back to the soil with the help of rhizobia bacteria.

Grains and grasses - Wheat, Barley, Rye, and Triticale are great crops to grow as not only a living mulch but will also provide a lot of biomass and organic material back to the soil. They also provide nitrogen, like legumes, as well as potassium.

Brassicas - Mustard, radish - while not only providing biomass back to the soil, mustards and radishes also help to control pests by releasing a chemical compound called glucosinolate when their cell walls rupture. They grow quite rapidly in the fall also helping to suppress weeds.

Broadleaves - which includes brassicas and most flowering species. This will help to also provide biomass to your soil but will attract pollinators to your garden, and who doesn't want that!

Trueleaf market has a great cover crop mix that you can buy and "cover" all your bases! They also have a great guide that you can download to learn more about cover crops and how they can benefit your garden!