Cover Crops for Home Gardens
Using cover crops is one of the secrets to a successful food garden. Cover crops, also known as green manures, are any green plant tilled back into the soil to improve soil fertility. They can add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil, loosen compacted soil, and reduce soil erosion over the winter. They also attract beneficial insects to the garden. Depending on the cover crop chosen, they can be planted in the fall or spring. To learn more about cover crops, visit Improve Your Soil With Cover Crops from Cornell University.
Favorite or New Plant
Weeping Alaska Cedar
As the garden changes from green and lush to brown and bare, we become acutely aware of how important evergreen trees and shrubs are to enjoying the garden year-round. There are hundreds of species and cultivars to which we might turn, but one of the most graceful to consider is the weeping Alaska cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Pendula'). While some weeping forms of evergreens, such as the weeping white pine, have oddly contorted main trunks, the weeping Alaska cedar maintains a relative strong central leader and pyramidal shape but has dramatically pendulous branches. Native from Alaska south to California, Alaska cedars may grow to 60 feet or taller, but in the garden, they usually reach a maximum height of around 35 feet, with a width of 20 feet. These trees do best with high humidity and rich, acid soil, but they adapt to less-than-ideal conditions, especially if the soil is kept moist but well-drained until they are established. Alaska cedar is hardy in zones 4 to 8, with full to partial sun.