Revitalize and Beautify Your Ground with Summer Cover Crops!
Have you decided to opt out of gardening this year and don't want your garden plot to go fallow? Or do you have a piece of your plot that you want to revive? Or are you looking to control weeds so that you don't have to remove them when you DO decide to garden? With minimal effort, you can grow summer cover crops this season to address all of these issues. Plus, cover crops can be very pretty, something we should talk more about! Several cover crops grown in the summer can produce flowers rapidly, not only revitalizing empty ground but beautifying it! However, the only drawback is that you must cut down your flowering cover crop before it goes to seed, otherwise, you may have a hard time fully getting rid of it when you decide to plant a garden.
Here are 3 cover crops that we recommend:
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) - A rapid growing broadleaf cover crop that will flower after about a month and a half. Its deep tap roots succeeds in suppressing weeds and cycling nutrients through your soil. The small white flowers that appear attract many beneficial pollinators similar to clover. To avoid buckwheat going to seed, cut down a week after the flowers appear. Seeding rate: 25 to 30 pounds per acre.
Soybean (Glycine max) - An upright bushy legume, growing up to 4 feet, Soybean produces a ton of biomass, fixes nitrogen, and suppresses weeds. For nitrogen fixing capabilities to work, you must inoculate the seeds before planting, which is a super easy process. Soybean can grow and adapt to a wide variety of soils and is quite drought tolerant. Cut down before pods fully develop. Seeding rate: 50 to 100 pounds per acre.
Mustard (Brassica juncea, Sinapis alba) - An upright, rapidly growing plant that helps significantly control pests because it contain a higher amount glucosinolate than other brassicas, and this chemical compound wards-off harmful insects, especially when the plant cells are ruptured when the plants are mowed down. If allowed to go to seed, you may have a hard time getting rid of Mustard plants. Mustard roots are also very dense, making them a terrific weed suppressor. Their yellow flowers are certainly things of beauty, but the entire crop should be cut down before those pretty flowers go to seed--or else mustard can become invasive. Seeding rate: 8 to 10 pounds per acre.
- Jordan Freytag