Benefits of Planting Cover Crops


| 4/10/2015 10:17:00 AM


Tags: cover crops, soil fertility, Erik Thiel, Pennsylvania,

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Planting cover crops to build soil fertility will benefit any garden, big or small. Each season seeds are sowed and the plants are watered and taken care of with the eventual goal to harvest and eat. The soil is what gives the plants the necessary nutrients to grow strong, fight off pests and disease, and produce the best flavored, most nutrient-dense food possible and it requires those nutrients to be given back. Cover crops will give back to the soil.

Some cover crops are capable of adding nitrogen to the soil while others are intended to add a great deal of biomass to the soil; some do both and all of them will help prevent well-built and well-earned soil from eroding. Here we’ll go over the benefits some cover crops provide and give a brief explanation on how and when to plant them.

Green Manure

Cover crops are also referred to as ‘green manure’. At Mad Love Organix we do not have access to manure. We do compost but compost only goes so far. So we stretch out the compost and plant cover crops. The main goal in planting cover crops is to get massive growth in a minimal timeframe when or wherever land is not being used. Rather than having nutrients leach out, nutrients will be stored and preserved and healthy, strong soil will be built.

According to How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method written by J.I. Rodale, both the plant being grown to harvest and the cover crop should be grown in one season. The cover crops can be grown either before or after the harvest crop. This goes back to taking from the soil then giving back. Or as Rodale points out, giving to the soil then taking the harvest. Either way, the cycle will continue.

Nitrogen-Fixing Cover Crops

Legumes, alfalfa, and clover are known for their nitrogen-fixing capabilities. They’re also some of the cover crops I’m most familiar with seeing in Pennsylvania. They possess this magical ability to take nitrogen out of the air with their leaves and transfer it back into the soil with their roots. They also add organic matter to the soil.




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