When to Grow A Spring Cover Crop
Cover crops are the perfect way to prepare your garden for a plentiful fall harvest if you are skipping the early spring vegetables this year. Instead of letting the weeds go rampant, reduce and suppress them with a cover crop. If your garden isn’t feeding you, it might as well feed itself. Right? Spring cover crops are meant to help boost nutrients in the soil, suppress weeds, increase biomass (organic matter), and attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. You don’t need to look at a garden full of weeds before you are ready to start planting in the summer.
To help you plan and prepare your garden for the best season yet, we have provided a list of cover crops based on the benefits they provide. To get started, plant your seeds by broadcasting them over your home growing space. Alfalfa, barley, and spring wheat do well when planted in the early spring (mid-March to early April in areas without a frost). You should wait to plant all others until just past your last spring frost date for your location.
More Resources and Cover Crop Information
If you are interested in learning more about what cover crops or don’t know where to start, read our “What Are Cover Crops And Green Manures Used For?” article. The big reason we use cover crops is to prevent soil erosion and restore soils. This does not only apply to large farms, it is also essential in the home garden. Cover crop practices can also be used to feed animals such as chickens.
For a complete look at how to grow individual cover crops, we recommend reading through our free cover crop grow guide for advice tailored to each crop. Here you will find many of your questions answered.
- New Zealand Clover
- Sweet Clover
- Field Peas
Atracts Beneficial Insects
Reduce Soil Compaction
- Sweet Clover
- New Zealand Clover
- Sweet Clover
- Hulless Oats
- Spring wheat
About the Author
I'm Ashleigh Smith, a native to Northern Utah. I first gained a love of gardening with my grandmother as I helped her each summer. I decided to make a career of it and have recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University - Idaho. My studies have focused on plant production while I also have experience in Nursery & Garden Center Operations.
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This is great information. Would you have different recommendations for cover crops for zone 9? I live in north central florida and would love to start some cover crops to help prepare my soil for a garden and feedmy animals. Great idea!
I love this article. I’ve never done cover crops but this fall I am going to try planting some to see peas to see if I can help out my soil. Thanks for the advice.
I’m definitely thinking about cover cropping this year!!
I’ve never done cropping but this article is very informative. I might try next year!
When talking cover crops there is no mention of daikon radish to be used for breaking up heavy clay soils.
Walter S Ferguson III
I am 71 yo. My wife and I raise some honey bees. I wanted to plant Mustard as I know they love to feed on the blossoms and it’s great for weed control. We have 5 acres. Some of it is garden (3/4) acre and rotated with red clover. Some is planted into plots of 3 different kinds of clover (1/4 acre each). What kind of mustard can I plant in Upstate NY, zone 6?
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