URBANA, IL Illinois – Healthy soil is important for healthy plants. The use of cover crops in the home garden – one of the ways to promote soil health.
Cover crops are uncollected crops that contribute organic matter to the soil, transfer nitrogen to plants, and break down heavy clay or compacted soil. They are commonly used in agriculture, but also have a place in the home garden.
Cover crops are planted before planting the garden or after harvest. Cover crops can also be planted in unused areas during the season.
Nicole Flowers-Kimmerl, a lecturer in horticulture at the University of Illinois, said that using cover crops in a home garden has many benefits.
“Improving soil structure, extracting nutrients from the depths of the soil and increasing soil fertility are just a few ways to improve soil health,” said Flowers-Kimmerl. “Suppressing weeds, habitats for beneficial insects, increasing biodiversity are other ways in which cover crops work for the benefit of the garden.”
Two types of cover crops should be considered: warm and cold seasons. Warm cover crops are planted in spring or summer before planting in the garden or on the pass. Buckwheat, peas and clover are common cover crops used in the backyard.
Cover crops of the cool season are planted in late summer or early fall after harvesting vegetables. Oats, winter wheat, winter rye, clover can be used as cover crops of the cool period.
“Keep in mind that these cover crops in the cool season should germinate and grow to winter temperatures,” Flowers-Kimmerl said.
Raspberry clover and cowpea are legumes that take nitrogen from the air and turn it into a form suitable for use by plants. Note that raspberry clover can be used in both warm and cold cover crops.
When planting cover crops there is no need to cover the seeds. Allow the plants to grow until the flowering stage.
As soon as flowering begins, mow or cut as close to the ground as possible to prevent seed formation. If the crop is cut too early, it can grow again. If it is cut too late, it can be replanted.
After cutting the cover crop, leave the cut area in the form of mulch on top of the soil or dig it into the ground. Both options have their advantages.
Leaving the plant material as mulch, you can suppress weeds. Treatment can help incorporate organic matter into the soil, but it also disrupts the delicate soil ecosystem.
“Every garden is unique, so you have to decide what’s right for each situation,” Flowers-Kimmerl said.
Winter-hardy cover crops or crops not killed by a slope could be processed in soil. The cover culture which has perished from winter temperatures, does not demand processing of garbage in soil.
When using cover crops, it is important to follow the rule “mow, wait, plant”. After mowing the cover crop, leave the plant remains for two to four weeks before planting anything else.
The remains must be destroyed, and the activity of microbes must slow down before new plants begin to grow.
Plant cover crops at home for healthy soil – AgriNews
Source link Plant cover crops at home for healthy soil – AgriNews