Is it that time of year already??? The cover crops went in in October and November and were tilled under on Saturday. Cover crops are a wonderful way to enhance your soils productivity. This year we used a mix called a "green manure" mix. The name comes from the multitude of legumes in the mix. Legumes are plants that create symbiotic relationships with nitrogen fixing bacteria. The plant provides the bacteria (which reside in nodules on the root system) with a bit of carbohydrate (sugar from photosynthesis) and in return the bacteria "fix" Nitrogen from the air and convert it to a usable type of nitrogen for the plant to utilize. Some of the legumes include beans, peas and clovers. We also planted oil seed radishes, which are designed to grow down deep into the subsoil and bring up nutrients to the soil's surface.
The second benefit of cover crops is it prevents erosion of the garden beds during the usually rainy winter season. Valuable top soil can be lost to erosion if farmers are not careful.
The third benefit is the addition of LOADS of organic matter once the cover crops are tilled under in the spring. This organic matter will be broken down by microbes and bacteria in the soil providing nutrients for growing garden plants throughout the season. The addition of organic matter also increases the water holding capacity of the soil making rain (and or irrigation) last much longer. In the pictures above you can see some of our garden beds with cover crops thriving. Now that the cover crops have been tilled under we can start preparing the beds for planting!
Dylan and Harmony, whichever of us have the time to sit down and write for a few minutes. : )