At the end of the garden season you may be ready to rest, but your soil is not. All gardens benefit from the use of cover crops, or “green manures” planted at the end of the season. Tilling, weeding, harvesting, and foot traffic tends to destroy soil structure. Planting cover crops is an easy way to revitalize the soil. Garden cover crop mixes help to reduce erosion and compaction, and increase water infiltration in soil. Cover crops help retain minerals normally leached from your soil over the winter. Densely planted cover crops will suppress perennial and winter annual weed growth. The top growth and roots add organic matter to the garden soil. The cover crop’s root system also opens passageways that help improve air and water movement and supports microbial life. This microbial life works synergistically with the roots, bacteria and fungi to improve soil health. Reducing soil erosion and nutrient leaching also improves the water quality within your watershed. Planting a winter-kill seed mix is an excellent way to get acquainted with cover crops.
For best results, the fall cover mix should be inter-planted with your fall crops between August 15th and September 15th. Portage SWCD has partnered with Walnut Creek Seeds to offer a fall cover crop seed mix that is well suited to Northeast Ohio. Five-pound bags will be available and will cover approximately 1000 square feet. Please see the order form on the back of this newsletter for pricing. Packets are available on a first come, first served basis while supplies last.
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