Cover crop

What skills to learn, what tools to get
jacob
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Cover crop

Post by jacob »

I need suggestions for a cover crop. What to use, where to buy it, and when to plant it?

We're in zone 5b-6a. I consider Nov 1 to be the first frost and May 1 to be the last.

Weeds start growing about a month before everything else and controlling them until the vegetables start winning is the number one thing I hate about gardening. It would be nice if I can prevent the weeds from getting a head start.

Usually, we harvest until mid October and August and September tend to be the most productive, but I figure that might be too late to plant a new cover crop?

I'd rather avoid large black plastic sheets if I can. Previously, I've used leaves somewhat held down by twigs. This sort of works (much better than nothing), but I have leaves flying everywhere and I'm also concerned about sucking too much nitrogen out of the ground by letting them decay over winter(?)

Jean
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Re: Cover crop

Post by Jean »

My brother uses straw, which works fine, you just take out the straw where youre planted vegetables needs to get out of the ground, and that's it. Alternatively, my dad uses the shredded grass from the lawn mower, without any of the downside one could fear (like grass seeding into your garden).

Alphaville
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Re: Cover crop

Post by Alphaville »

alfalfa? rye/ winter wheat? radishes?

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Cover crop

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

I've seen people use old newspapers though I don't know if it is a good idea or not.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Cover crop

Post by Hristo Botev »

People here use mostly pine straw; not sure what impact on the soil that when you're putting in the next crop.

Alphaville
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Re: Cover crop

Post by Alphaville »

guys... all those are nice mulches but he’s asking for cover crop which is alive

winter alfalfa will add nitrogen, not sap it. then you can even plow it in for extra.

here’s an article on radish/wheat/peas which looks interesting:

https://morningchores.com/winter-cover-crops/

i don’t personally know crimson clover or vetch and i’m just empirical in this area so i can’t say.

Jean
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Re: Cover crop

Post by Jean »

In that case, I'de suggest strawberries. They are good at covering the space and are very low maintenance. You can mow them in fall for increased strawberry productivity. If you put a few plant around your garden, they could completly cover it in a few years.

Alphaville
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Re: Cover crop

Post by Alphaville »

@Jean - it’s not meant to be forever
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couvert_v ... ermédiaire

horsewoman
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Re: Cover crop

Post by horsewoman »

Hereabouts farmers plant lupine and clover on fields over the winter and plough it in spring. A German gardening site mentiones chickweed, but I can not recommend it - I let it grow in my herb tub one winter a few years ago and now I can't get rid of it. While it is edible I don't need a lot of it and if left unchecked it takes over my whole tub.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Cover crop

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

First question would be what manner of volunteers you are striving to control? Most anything, including many weeds of our region can serve as cover crop to be tilled or chop/dropped prior to other planting.

Alternate suggestion would be extended early planting of spring crop prior to frost free date. If a dandelion starts popping up in the middle of your arugula, you can just Eat it too. Think about your garden beds as being like hotel beds you always want to be keeping full of rough mix of paying guests. Don’t hold any of them empty in reserve for tender summer crops. Key skill is ability to identify species as emerging in polyculture inclusive of a few weeds that might be mildly toxic addition to your salad or stir fry.

horsewoman
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Re: Cover crop

Post by horsewoman »

Asked my head gardener, he said lupine is too expensive for that aim.
Mustard, phacelia, Broad bean and Alexandria clover were his suggestions.

EMJ
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Re: Cover crop

Post by EMJ »


guitarplayer
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Re: Cover crop

Post by guitarplayer »

I second broadbeans, they are tasty proteins too! Our gardener has been using them two seasons ago. Last season and this season he planted something that flowers blue, I'll ask him what species that it.

George the original one
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Re: Cover crop

Post by George the original one »

Fava beans and buckwheat are the two cover crops that can easily be tilled back into the soil. Maybe winter wheat, too. Clover is probably not what you're looking for, though it is a good nitrogen fixer, because the seeds remain viable if they happen to not sprout the year they're planted.

EMJ
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Re: Cover crop

Post by EMJ »

guitarplayer wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:59 pm
I second broadbeans, they are tasty proteins too! Our gardener has been using them two seasons ago. Last season and this season he planted something that flowers blue, I'll ask him what species that it.
Note though that you get either protein in harvested seeds or nitrogen in the soil:

Incorporating green manures
There’s a common assumption among gardeners that you can plant peas or beans to add nitrogen to the soil and harvest a crop from them as well. Unfortunately, there’s a trade-off involved. Nitrogen fixation in legumes peaks at flowering. After that, the nitrogen moves to the seeds. In the seeds, the nitrogen is converted into amino acids, the building blocks of protein. (This explains why the dried seeds of legumes such as beans are high in protein.) When the beans or peas are removed, most of the fixed nitrogen is harvested as well. If the rest of the plant is removed, there is likely no net gain of nitrogen. Removing the plants and the roots could result in a loss of nitrogen.
http://www.eap.mcgill.ca/MagRack/COG/COG_E_97_02.htm

guitarplayer
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Re: Cover crop

Post by guitarplayer »

EMJ wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 3:39 am
Note though that you get either protein in harvested seeds or nitrogen in the soil:
Thanks for this! I knew there had to be something I did not know, one couldn't have the cake and eat it. Well, in such case, if something comes up and one has to go travel etc., then at least there is some food waiting upon return :)

Riggerjack
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Re: Cover crop

Post by Riggerjack »

Around here, I would go to the local farm supply co-op. They have several cover crop seed mixes bagged up under their brand. Each has been designed by a committee of local growers, for the needs of local growers, with access to commercial seed sources. Contents, and directions on the 50# paper bag.

But I don't know how far you would have to go to get something like that in Chicago.

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TheWanderingScholar
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Re: Cover crop

Post by TheWanderingScholar »

EMJ wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 3:39 am
Note though that you get either protein in harvested seeds or nitrogen in the soil:

Incorporating green manures
There’s a common assumption among gardeners that you can plant peas or beans to add nitrogen to the soil and harvest a crop from them as well. Unfortunately, there’s a trade-off involved. Nitrogen fixation in legumes peaks at flowering. After that, the nitrogen moves to the seeds. In the seeds, the nitrogen is converted into amino acids, the building blocks of protein. (This explains why the dried seeds of legumes such as beans are high in protein.) When the beans or peas are removed, most of the fixed nitrogen is harvested as well. If the rest of the plant is removed, there is likely no net gain of nitrogen. Removing the plants and the roots could result in a loss of nitrogen.
http://www.eap.mcgill.ca/MagRack/COG/COG_E_97_02.htm
In the case, would leaving the last harvest of beans on the stalk and tilling it into the ground work? Or would it be better to just dedicate an entire season's worth of beans to be tilled into the ground?


Equal parts thinking out loud, equal parts question.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Cover crop

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Eat beans. Dump urine back in garden.

Alphaville
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Re: Cover crop

Post by Alphaville »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 4:02 pm
Eat beans. Dump urine back in garden.
A+++++

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