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Q: Overwhelmed With Cover Crop Choices
Sep 10, 2009 - Amber
PVFS Customer Question with Staff Response.
Hi, I am a bit overwhelmed with cover crops. I have a raised bed garden that is 5-years old and I feel it is time to plant a cover crop for this soil. Every year I put in my compost, but have never done the cover crop thing. Can you give me any suggestions? It is 24 sq. ft. and I have had an increase in bad bugs: cabbage worms, snails and cucumber beetles to name the predominant. Also, my tomatoes that usually do really well were less than stellar this year. It could be the cooler, wet weather we had this season, but I would think the fixing of nitrogen could only help. So, please let me know what you think I should do. Thanks so much.
Don’t be overwhelmed! It’s true that there are a lot of choices for cover cropping, but when you narrow down the focus, it becomes more clear about how to handle it. Sounds like you want a “green manure” crop; that is, you want to grow something with the intent to till it back into the soil. It will fix nitrogen, stabilize the soil, encourage microorganism activity, add organic matter, etc. Please read the Peaceful Valley literature (here) on the topic for information on planting and more.
Our most popular green manure mix is called the Soil Builder Mix. Using Inoculant will ensure that your crop produces the most amount of Nitrogen possible. A couple of suggestions for your tomato and pest problems is to be sure to clean up the garden after the season (ie-remove leaves, debris, etc.), and be sure to rotate your crops every year.
Hope that helps and thank you for growing organically!