Many backyard gardeners avoid planting cover crops because it seems so hard to till them into the soil the next spring without all of the appropriate equipment. That’s where it pays to read about no-till cover crops. These crops give you all the benefits of cover crops, improving your soil over winter, but you don’t have to worry about blending them in.
If you’re wondering how to use no-till cover crops in vegetable gardens, just keep reading.
Cover crops are plants sown into soil after the ordinary growing season is over. These crop seeds, often a mix of grasses and legumes, sprout, grow, and produce biomass. They are then tilled into the soil to enrich it before the ordinary growing season.
In no-till gardens, the cover crop is carefully selected so that it maximizes the benefits of cover crops. No-till cover cropping stays planted until just before the vegetable crops are planted, and can be blended into the soil without tilling them. They either die after mowing or rolling, or die back naturally over the course of the winter.
Farmers have been using cover crops for many decades. Planting soil with a cover crop after the “cash crop” is harvested builds the soil’s organic matter, suppresses weeds, prevents erosion, moderates soil temperatures, increases soil fertility, and assists and encourages pollinators and beneficial insects. In the garden, the presence of the cover crop roots all winter increases space for water storage, makes the soil permeable, and recycles nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil.
Winter cover crops, planted in late fall and terminated in spring, are critical to organic farms and gardens where chemical fertilizers and pesticides are not permitted.
Regular cover crops are tilled into the soil before theRead more on gardeningknowhow.com