Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Cover Crops for Community Garden Plots--we have seed for sale!

Cover Crops or Green Manure
·         Cover crops are grown to be dug into the soil before maturity in order to improve the soil for the next food crop. Cover crops feed the soil.
·         When an area is not being used for food production, cover crops can and should be grown.
·         Benefits:
1.      Replenish nitrogen and “fix” it in the soil.
2.      Add nutrients that are depleted.
3.      Increase water holding capacity.
4.      Loosen packed soil.
5.      Suppress weeds.
·         Some examples of cover crops are the grass family (fall rye, barley, buckwheat or oats) and the legume family (clover, hairy vetch, broad beans or field peas). For overwintering (leaving the plants in the ground all winter), we have:
Crimson Clover:
·       Sow in July, Aug., early Sept.
·         Can interplant with vegetables.
·         Red flowers in late spring.
·         Hardy to -23 degrees.
Winter Field Peas
·         Sow in late Aug., early Sept.
·         Use inoculant on seed.
·         Plant 1 to 3” deep
·         Hardy to -23 degrees.
Fall Rye
·         Sow in late Aug., early Sept.
·         Sow no deeper than 2”.
·         Looks like grass.
·         Hardy to -40, good for Calgary.
·         May continue growing in spring.
·         Cut down before it is 12”.
·         Excellent soil builder.

·         Sow in spring or summer and in empty spaces during growing season.
·         Grows tall with broad leaves.
·         White flowers attract bees.
·         Winter kills.
·         Adds calcium.
·         Good after breaking ground for new gardens. Grow 2 successive crops.

*** Time is needed in beginning for roots to establish and after tilling for decomposition.
1.      Clear the area and till it.
2.      Scatter seeds evenly, rake in and water.
3.      Till entire crop under before mature or one month before planting.
4.      Never let it go to seed.
Congratulations to the many keen Mid Sun gardeners who have taken the initiative to improve their soil through cover crops! We still have seed available for gardeners in the community who wish to purchase. Each package covers approximately 32 sq. ft. and is $4.00. You may email us at

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