Beautiful Crimson Clover
Cover Crops in Community Garden

 This week we had to say good-bye to our old buddies…our winter cover crops.  Our Crimson clover produced beautiful red flowers at the beginning of last week which indicated to us that it was certainly time to till them in.  Planted in September of last year, I had kind of grown attached to the plants that protected and nourished our soil all winter long.  However,  it was time to let go and so clover, oats, pea, and rye were all mowed down in the community garden last week and tilled in yesterday .  I just want to take this opportunity, on behalf of our plants and soil to thank our cover crops for all of the hard work that they do for us!  They protect the soil from erosion, smother potential weeds, create tons of organic material and even fix Nitrogen…. It seems a shame that right at their peak, just as they flower (before they can produce seed) we cut them down.  SO thanks again, cover…we appreciate you!

We are really excited about cover crops at our site for all of the reasons I just mentioned.  We utilize summer cover (millet, cow pea, buckwheat, sudex) and winter cover (rye, vetch, oats, winter pea, crimson clover).  I think buckwheat can be an excellent cover crop for a small grower or home gardener.  It is easily workable.  You can mow it or simply pull it up and lay it in the bed once it has flowered.  If it seeds at all it is pretty easy to deal with.  For more info on cover crops, check out these links:

Managing Cover Crops Profitably
Utilizing Cover Crops in Vegetable Production Systems
Improve your Soil with Cover Crops

These are just a couple of nice photos from the garden.  We have been eating lots of lettuce, beets, carrots, and herbs.  Below is a photo of flowers from our medicine garden.  I thought that Meadow Clary and perennial Alyssum looked so nice!