Benefits of Cover Crops
The many benefits of growing cover crops are the increase of organic matter, nematode suppression, weed control, reduce soil erosion, and increase yields in the vegetable garden soils. When building up your garden soils you have to supply the best cover crop that fulfills the characteristics you are wanting to replenish in the soil.
Repairing Vegetable Garden Soils
On this week’s episode, Travis is explaining the easiest way to repair vegetable garden soils. Currently growing is a nice patch of Sunn Hemp which is a warm-season cover crop that will provide a significant amount of biomass back into the soil. Since this cover crop is in the legume family it has the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and transfer it in garden soils. Once it starts blooming, he will cut it down and place a silage tarp on top to help incorporate the nutrients back in the soil. Travis is going to plant another cover crop in the garden which is going to be Sorghum Sudangrass. This is a great addition to soils that have been heavily farmed or that have been depleted of nutrients and organic matter. Before adding the cover crop into the area, he first uses a tiller to make the soil more workable for planting. Since the seeds are uniform and round it makes easier to plant using the Hoss Garden Seeder. The seeder ensures accurate planting along rows without wasting seed by overplanting in the vegetable garden. Travis mentions that the recommended rate for sudangrass is one pound per thousand square feet. He is planting the warm season cover crop in an area that is 30 x 35 which is around the recommended rate. Travis is going to broadcast the seeds a little bit thicker in the area to ensure he gets a complete ground cover in the garden spot. Once the seeds are broadcasted he will take a landscape rake and just drag it along the soil to ensure the seeds are nice and covered up in the area. Finally, he will add an overhead sprinkler to the area to get some water to the seeds and allow them to start growing in the vegetable garden soils.
Beneficial Cover Crop Varieties
Two other beneficial warmers season cover crops are Buckwheat and Brown Top Millet. The Buckwheat variety is known for being fast-growing which allows for quick turnover in the vegetable garden. It can be squeezed in smaller windows such as spring and fall plantings when you want to break off pest and disease cycles to improve future plantings. When it comes to the Brown Top Millet it can provide excellent ground cover that will work well for weed suppression in the vegetable garden soils. Another benefit of the millet is it can be used as livestock forage and green manure for adding organic matter which will improve soil tilth and quality back into the garden area.