Cover crops are plants that are intentionally sown to cover the soil, often during non-growing times to help prevent weeds from becoming established. However, cover crops also deliver a wide range of other benefits to your garden. Here’s a quick look at how they can provide benefits both when planted and when they’re replaced by intentional plantings.
The Benefits of Using Cover Crops In Your Garden
1. Prevent erosion. Because your soil is covered, raindrops strike the cover crop, not your soil’s surface. This reduces detachment and keeps your soil in place where it’s needed most.
2. Improve mycorrhizal populations. Many cover crops provide additional habitat for mycorrhiza in your soil to live, helping increase their numbers and overall health to boost your garden production.
3. Supply nutrients. Legume cover crops, such as clover and vetch, can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil in large amounts, leaving plenty of this nutritional powerhouse in the ground for your next season. Other cover crops transport nutrients closer to the surface.
4. Suppress weeds. Because the cover crops are covering the soil and are selected because of their strong growth, you don’t have to worry about weed seeds finding purchase in the soil and taking over your garden.
5. Improve soil water availability. Because cover crops have extensive root systems, they carry a lot of water closer to the surface, leaving it in place at the end of their growing cycles for your next planting to take advantage of.
6. Break pest cycles. Many pests overwinter in the soil and emerge when the sun begins to warm up the earth around them. Having a cover crop in place can keep them from emerging at the right time, allowing you to break these annoying cycles.
7. Break compacted soil layers up. Many cover crops have extensive root systems, which break up the soil as they grow. This makes it much easier for the next crop’s roots to more fully penetrate the soil, providing better nutrients and growth as they more fully develop.
8. Provide habitat for beneficial insects. Beneficial insects need someplace to hide and shelter from the elements and prey insects. By growing cover crops, you provide these beneficial insects with this much-needed cover.
9. Decrease nutrient loss. Because erosion is reduced and the soil surface is protected when a cover crop is in place, it ensures that the nutrients remain in place. Unprotected soil can easily begin to leach nutrients in rainwater.
10. Add organic matter. The extensive root systems found in cover crops form wonderful organic matter in your soil, making it much easier for the soil to hold nutrients and moisture for you next crop.
Cover crops deliver a wide range of benefits, but only if you start using them. At Redbud Soil Company, we can provide you with the right cover crop seeds for your situation. Please feel free to reach out today with any questions, for more details or to place an order.