Row by Row Episode 19: Growing Cover Crops to Improve Soil Health

Importance of Cover Crops

On this week’s episode, the guys discuss growing cover crops to improve garden soil health. Hoss recently added a complete line of cool and warm-season cover crops on their website, and the guys are excited to share these with the audience this week. Growing cover crops has many benefits including nitrogen fixation, soil building, weed suppression, erosion control, pest and disease suppression among others. All cover crops have certain benefits that they specialize in. They recommend using cover crops if you are not growing anything else in the fall garden because it will help reduce the weed seed bank in the garden. They discuss the five cool-season cover crops that should be planted in fall, giving the crops enough time to establish before winter frost arrives. These include crimson clover, hairy vetch, Austrian winter peas, winter rye, and tillage radish. Also, most of these cover crops can be planted with our Hoss Garden Seeder. The crimson clover we offer is coated with inoculant on the seed which makes it simpler to plant and grow. It also is great for pollinators like bees because they absolutely love it. For harder, clay soils, the guys recommend using tillage radish to aerate hard soils and improve drainage in areas that hold too much moisture. The Austrian Winter Peas are great for planting a food plot for livestock. Out of all the winter cover crops, it is the fastest growing cover crop. Next is the winter rye which a lot of commercial farmers that do no-till use when farming. This is the only cover crop that does not work with the garden seeder you should broadcast it in with a rake or harrow. The last cover crop they discuss is Hairy Vetch. This crop re-seeds really well so if you want a cover crop that is going to naturally re-seed and produce really well this is the one the guys recommend. Clover, vetch, and winter peas are all great nitrogen-fixers which sequester nitrogen from the atmosphere and add it to your garden soil.

Show and Tell Segment

On the show and tell segment this week, the guys talk about their sweet potatoes that are still growing. They planted these in the middle of June and sweet potatoes usually require about 100 days to maturity. However, their plants were fairly weak when planted, which may delay this time to harvest. Travis brought a few small ones that he dug and mentions that they probably still need another 30 days or so to get larger. Travis also shows a photo of his Ambrosia sweet corn that was recently side-dressed with Chilean Nitrate and hilled with the High Arch Wheel Hoe. Greg shows a photo of his Pro-Cut Sunflowers that have started to bloom and are adding lots of color and pollinators to his fall garden. The guys talk a little bit about the crops growing down at the SunBelt Expo. However, they are experiencing some whitefly pressure which has the plants not doing too well. The tool of the week is our dibble wheel attachment that works perfectly for planting transplants or seeds.

Viewer Questions Segment

On the question and answer segment, the guys answer questions about blood meal and baby lima beans. Greg mentions that blood meal is a fast, organic nitrogen source that can be used for heavy feeders like cabbage. He also mentions that he would probably not use it when close to harvest time. Travis addresses the baby lima bean issue and mentions that baby lima beans are a specific variety that has been bred to produce smaller beans.

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