It is around the peak of warm temperatures for the summer growing season this year. With this kind of warm weather conditions, there’s not a lot of vegetable crops that will produce in the garden area. However, some crops like okra, sweet potatoes, and zinnias can continue to grow in these temperatures. This is why we recommend building up your soils during the summer to prepare them for planting in the fall. Using a summer cover crop is not only great for shorter growing windows but you also maintain the garden and improve the soil tilth in the vegetable garden.
Summer Cover Crop
On this week’s episode, Travis is planting a beneficial summer cover crop to help build up the garden soils. He currently has two subplots in the dream garden that he is going to plant Buckwheat and Brown Top Millet. Before planting the summer cover crop, Travis used the tiller to help get the soil nice and fluffy to ensure the area gets good seed to soil and better germination in the vegetable garden. The Buckwheat is perfect for smaller growing windows because it grows very fast compared to other cover crop varieties. It also breaks down quickly in the garden which will allow for faster turnover and replanting of vegetables in the following growing season. Buckwheat is ideal for maintaining weed suppression since it grows so fast it is able to outpace the growth of weeds, therefore, making it easier to control. Another benefit of this cover crop is it provides a significant amount of organic matter that will loosen and improve the topsoil this ensures the garden soil will be more workable and increase soil drainage in the area. The Brown Top Millet is an excellent cover crop for livestock forage and green manure for adding organic matter to the soils. Typically millet is a tall, bunching grass that can reach up to 12 feet high which adds a “mat” over the soil that provides complete ground cover in the vegetable garden. The millet cover crop is also ideal for soils that have low moisture and low fertility with areas in high temperatures. Some of the benefits of planting millet is it can add significant amounts of organic matter to depleted soils which can improve soil tilth and quality. Travis recommends planting these two cover crop varieties with a precision planter like the Hoss Garden Seeder. With our seed plate design, you are able to customize the plates according to what seed varieties you are planting in the vegetable garden. Like all cover crops, they should be mowed or cut in order to incorporate back into the soil before going to seed. By incorporating them back into soils you will ensure that all nutrients is getting added into the garden soil and preventing weed issues in the future.