Cover Crops For Home Gardens

cover crops
Natural mulch and soil amendment

We know that nutrients for the soil come from many places and things. One of those sources is cover crops that hold soil in place, add organic matter to the soil, and act as a mulch. We can probably say that mother nature has provided weeds (plants that aren’t wanted) to be her cover crop alongside our much-needed additions like legumes and non-legumes.

There are different reasons why we should consider growing our own cover crops besides just providing a cover over winter. Here are a several:

  • Plant cover crops around food crops or between growing seasons.
  • Plant cover crops to be a permanent mulch in and around fruit trees, bushes and perennial vegetables.
  • A temporary living mulch between rows or around plants.
  • Planting cover crops is used to rejuvenate poor soil by planting in summer and again in winter.

There are many different types of cover crops, here is a list of a few found almost anywhere in this country.

  • Annual ryegrass is a food crop winter and early spring cover crop. It grows fast, holds the soil well, and prevent nutrients from leaching out of the soil.
  • Buckwheat will grow even in poor soil and will grow rapidly in the summer. Great to provide a build-up of organic matter, it decomposes fast also.
  • Hairy vetch is a winter legume cover crop. Is noted for rapid growth which will choke out weed seeds. Best if sowed with rye, oats or buckwheat.
  • Red clover will provide maximum nitrogen enrichment if left in soil for 1 full year. Grows rapidly in spring, summer or early fall even in poor soils.
  • White clover also known as Dutch clover will grow even in the shade and make an excellent living mulch.
  • Winter rye is the most used cover crop and is the hardiest. Plant 1 month before the first frost.
Hairy Vetch
Hairy Vetch a winter legume cover crop
Red Clover
Red Clover- grows in poor soils.
White Clover
White Clover – aka Dutch clover






You want to work the cover crops into the soil before they set seeds. If crop stays year-round be sure to mow on high setting and that will keep the weeds from taking over.

This video is only for 2:17 minutes.

for more information from experts click on Cover Crops.

Related How To article: How to Plant Cover Crops

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