Cover Crops

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Organic Ade

Soil Without Toil
Cover Crops

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Witch Hazel
the "easy organic"

How to Grow Your Own Soil

You don't have to prepare the seed bed like you would for your usual gardening.  Just clear the bed of weeds and spent vegetables, then rake the soil free of the biggest clumps. You'll need an average of one and a half cups of seed to sow a 100-square-foot area.  Seed, then work in with a rake or cover with additional soil. A good rule of thumb is to cover the seed to a depth three times its diameter. Water thoroughly and be sure to keep watering in during dry weather.

Grasses and grains should be turned under when they start to form grain heads, or sooner. Crops planted in fall are turned under in spring, but cereal rye and ryegrass can grow fast and should be cut, then turned under before grain heads form.  You can compost the cuttings or turn them into the soil too.  Depending on when you plant, you may have to cut grasses/grains more than once before turning in time. Adding a handful of high nitrogen fertilizer will hasten the decomposition of the crop (unless you go for the clover crops, which fix nitrogen in their roots, so no extra is needed). 

You'll have to wait about 3 weeks before planting your garden after tilling in.  Other amendments you can add at the time of digging in that give more lasting soil improvement are:  agricultural gypsum, ground limestone, sharp sand.

Types of cover crops for different conditions

Loosens compacted or heavy soils alfalfa, bell beans, most clovers, barley, buckwheat, cereal rye, kale, mustard, ryegrass, tyfon, daikon radish
Tolerates drought alfalfa, hairy vetch, barley, cereal rye, ryegrass, Sudan grass (sorghum)
Attracts beneficial insects Alfalfa attracts a host of parasitic wasps, lady beetles, damsel bugs, big-eyed bugs and assassin bugs. White clover attracts tachinid flies, ground beetles and parasitic wasps that prey on aphids, scales, caterpillars and whiteflies. Most grains attract lady beetles. Clovers and vetches attract minute pirate bugs. Buckwheat attracts predatory and parasitic wasps, syrphid flies (also called hover flies) and bumblebees.
Suppresses weeds most clovers, Austrian peas, field peas, soybeans, vetches, barley, buckwheat; cereal rye, oats, ryegrass, Sudan grass
Tolerates Wet Conditions bell beans, subterranean clover, Austrian peas, mustard, oats, ryegrass
Tolerates Shade most clovers, hairy vetch, cereal rye, ryegrass
Tolerates Heat cowpeas, soybeans, buckwheat, Sudan grass
Tolerates Acidic Soil bell beans, most clovers, most vetches, buckwheat
Tolerates Alkaline Soil

alfalfa, barley, ryegrass, Sudan grass

Repel Nematodes, Add beneficial Fungi Sudan Grass (sorghum) repels nematodes as it provides humus and feeds the beneficial fungi in the soil with its natural sugars

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