The Q&A Archives: Green Manure Cover Crops

Question: Can you tell me where I can order some green manures: crimson clover, southern peas, and peanuts? When should I plant them and turn them over? Do I just spread
the seeds over the ground and wait for germination? Would I be able to harvest any peanuts or peas? Will I still need to supplement the soil with other nutrients?

Answer: A cover crop is a fast maturing and growing crop that is grown to be tilled back into the ground without harvesting. The purpose is to add organic matter and nutrients to the soil. You'd dedicate an area of your garden for cover cropping and plant seed (such as buckwheat) either in spring or summer for a summer cover crop or many gardeners plant a fall or winter cover crop in fall after their main crops are finished producing. These could be annual ryegrass or winter wheat for example. The key is to let them grow and before they flower and go to seed, till the crop in to add the organic matter. Local garden centers should have seed available to purchase as cover crops.

Cover crops will add organic matter and nutrients to your soil. It's still a good idea to mulch around your plants with organic matter and to side-dress about mid-season with a liquid fish emulsion or other fertilizer to help your veggies grow and mature.

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