Our friend Denise, who you see in this episode, put together some notes for us, about cover crops and why they’re important. If you have a garden—no matter where you live, no matter how big or small your garden is—these will come in handy for getting it ready for winter.
How to cover crop:
Step 1. Using a hand rake or rake, rake any soil back onto your raised beds.
Step 2. Pull out any unwanted weeds.
Step 3. Water your soil.
Step 4. Sow your cover crop seeds (we use oats and peas) using the “broadcasting” method (make it snow seeds, close to the earth). If you have a hat and a large space to seed, put your seeds in your hat.
Step 5. Water again, making sure soil and seeds do not wash away.
Step 6. Cover seeds with reemay (agro fabric) and secure in place to prevent little animals from eating all the yummy seeds before they sprout.
Step 7. Uncover once your seeds sprout in a couple of weeks. The roots and young plants are already acting as a winter coat and setting their roots deep into the soil, so your it doesn’t blow away.
Come spring, till under your cover crops or green manure so your soil is happy and well fed with organic plant material. Your soil structure will be greatly improved and will be more nutritious!
Cover Cropping improves soil by:
• Adding organic matter to soils
• Releasing nutrients like nitrogen (because plants need healthy food, just like we do)
• Increasing microbial activity (healthy soil is teaming with life, keep the little beings in your soil happy!)
• Suppressing weed growth or stopping the more aggressive plants you don’t want growing in your beds by growing more friendly cover crops like peas and oats.
• Controlling soil erosion. Your cover crops will act as a winter coat, setting their roots down so your soil doesn’t blow away.
Atom: the smallest particle of a substance that can exist by itself or be combined with other atoms to form a molecule
Carbon Carbon is a chemical element that forms diamonds (the hardest substance on earth) and coal and that is found in petroleum and in all living plants and animals. It plays a crucial role in the health and stability of our planet. All living organisms contain carbon, and as they decay or change, they will continue to contain the element. Coal, limestone, and petroleum, for example, are all fossilized forms of living organisms containing abundant amounts of carbon. Plants and animal life which died millions of years ago were slowly compressed into these substances, and their integral carbon was preserved.
Element: One of the basic substances that are made of atoms of only one kind and that cannot be separated by ordinary chemical means into simpler substances
Microbe: Microbes are extremely small living things that can only be seen with a microscope. They are the oldest form of life on earth. Without microbes, plants couldn't grow and garbage wouldn't decay and there would be less oxygen to breathe. Without them, our planet as we know it wouldn’t exist.
Nitrogen : Nitrogen is a chemical that has no color or smell and that makes up a large part of the atmosphere. It also appears in a number of other compounds, and is a vital component of life on Earth for many organisms. In addition to inhaling nitrogen with every breath, most organisms also consume it in their food on a daily basis.
Organic Matter: Any material or debris that is derived from plants.