You always hear about farmers rotating crops to replenish soil nutrients. What you don't hear much about are other options that provide the same results. You guessed it, Cover Crops!
A cover crop is traditionally a non-edible grain, legume, or tillage radish sown to feed the microbes under the ground - in your garden beds.
Winter is THE busiest time of year for soil decomposition. Cover Crops help to feed the biological soil life keeping them active longer. In return, these plants will reduce soil erosion, improve aeration, improve drainage, replenish nitrogen, and organic matter.
In Kentucky, we like to use a Winter Blend containing: Winter rye, Austrian peas (or Hairy Vetch or Crimson Clover), and daikon radish. This will sprout in the Fall, go dormant in the Winter, then grow more in the Spring. It's gorgeous and green ALL WINTER. Come Springtime, cultivate plants into the soil and let them rest before planting in that bed. You may also plant among the cover crop remains. May take 7-10 days to fully prepare garden beds for planting.
Some gardeners prefer to shop for a "Winter Kill" cover crop that sprouts in the late Summer or Fall, then dies with a hard freeze. This type still provides the above benefits but for a shorter duration. AND Winter Kill is much easier to cultivate down in the Spring because it isn't actively growing.
Always read "Sowing Instructions". It's sooooooo easy to "over-sow" or plant too heavily. This will result in a dense stand of foliage that can be more difficult to break down. Look for "pounds per sq foot". You'll want to buy the correct amount of ounces or lb for your space. Word to the wise: Do not over-sow!
Clean out unproductive plants and cultivate soil. Hand-sow or "broadcast" the seeds into empty beds or spaces. You may lightly cover the seeds with nearby soil. Be sure the soil is moist for germination success! No need to irrigate this time of year.
REACH OUT FOR QUESTIONS OR Check out our Cover Crop SEED Options HERE!