Late autumn and early winter often leave gardens looking bare and unsightly. One way to improve both the appearance and the health of your garden is to use winter cover crops.
Cover crops can provide a living barrier against the elements, or they can be grown as a green manure, to be cut back before they flower. Cover crops reduce erosion, suppress weeds, and improve soil health.
Even before summer crops are harvested and the last, struggling tomato plant has succumbed to frost, you can plant your cover crops. Any rains that come will help speed their growth.
Grass family cover crops
Cereal grains, such as rye, wheat, and barley, can also be grown as cover crops. As an added bonus, they help break up compacted soil as their roots grow deeper than your shovel or rototiller will ever go. Then, before they go to seed, these plants are cut off and left to lay where they fall, or where they are needed.
Inexpensive and easy to grow, cover crops are a simple investment in your garden’s long term health. They look nice, too! If you want something that's even easier, simply cover your soil with a mulch of wood chips.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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