When it comes to farming, a big part is being sustainable and using sustainable practices. One way we practice this at our site, Ruby Grow, is by using cover crops to help add nitrogen, loosen the soil, and add organic matter into the soil. Cover crops can help cut down on soil erosion while also adding nutrients to the soil; they help limit weeds and create living mulch. They also help to cut down on the use of fossil fuels and help increase productivity.
When it comes to picking out which cover crop to use, it can get a little overwhelming, but most cover crops fit in these three categories: legumes, brassicas, grasses and grains. First, we have legumes: alfalfa, beans, clover, field peas, and lentils. Legumes help improve soil fertility by adding nitrogen, preventing erosion, and suppressing weeds. Brassicas help with soil health, weed prevention, erosion prevention and to help cycle nutrients back into the soil. The brassicas we use are radishes, kale, mustard, and arugula. Lastly, grasses and grains are commonly used for erosion control, and weed control and are worked into the soil after they are cut down to add organic matter back into the soil. The grasses and grains used are barley, buckwheat, oats, ryegrass, and winter rye.
When it comes to planting the cover crops, it depends on your location and what you are planting. We are shooting for August 22nd to plant most of ours while also planting a few in the spring. We plant clover, rye, regular vetch, black oats, and field peas. We picked these crops to put nitrogen in the soil, add organic matter by tilling them into the soil, and for weed control. We hope your summer is going as well as ours and hope you all consider looking into cover crops and have a great fall harvest!