Cover Cropping By Roach
The Good Earth Organics
This time of year gardeners should start thinking about giving a jump start to their spring gardens. There are many things one should start thinking about now such as taking clones from mother plants or starting their seeds but one thing I recommend, that isn’t on everyone’s radar, is cover cropping. It’s a fun, easy and inexpensive way to get many different benefits throughout the year. I’m going to give everyone a few tips on cover crops and how they can help you have a better outdoor season.
Cover crops provide a multitude of benefits to the outdoor Cannabis gardener ranging from preparation of the ground to being a substitute food source for livestock and humans. How about some fresh stone ground wheat bread? That’s right. Crops such as Winter Wheat and Barley serve as great cover crops because they have shallow roots that will prevent leaching of nutrients and erosion of soil. They’re planted in winter and pulled a short time later allowing for other cover crops still to be planted. They also serve as a sort of pre-till that will break up clumpy ground and many growers prefer them because they can easily be up-rooted and kept from growing back.
Or, maybe instead you want a crop like Clover that is resilient and self seeds and can be tilled in year after year as a green manure. Aside from being a great compost crop, Clovers will actually fix Nitrogen from the atmosphere making them a perfect companion plant that all your grazing animals will find yummy as well. Braco Mustard has been shown to prevent harmful nematodes in the soils in which it’s tilled, almost like a natural fumigant in the ground. Food and forage crops such as Dundale Peas, Fava beans, Vetch and various oat varieties can be rotated with other cover crops serving as a very efficient way to get extra food for yourself and your critters.
Try to avoid a crop that won’t finish by early May unless you plan on it being companion planted with your Cannabis. The first couple weeks in May is a great time to just throw whatever dry organic nutrients with which you’re planning on amending right on your cover crop and till it all together then pile it to cook for a month with an eye on early June planting. I’ll discuss amending, tilling, and planting more in later columns.
I recommend finding organic heirloom varieties of all the cover crops I’ve mentioned online so you can save your seeds from year to year. Permaculturist leaning Cannabis gardeners should get a real kick out of discovering how efficiently they can use their prime soil in the off season; in some cases being able to rotate and companion plant many different crops before they plant in early June.
So if you have an itch to get out in the garden early this year and cover cropping sounds like it might be up your alley then hop online and do some research into the benefits of a few different cover crops to see if they might be for you. You’ll be surprised at the extra value gained from your garden and the perks you get throughout the year by employing one ore more of these economical and fun cover crop techniques.
For more information on cover cropping, or to ask any other questions you might have, contact Roach at The Good Earth Organics in Cave Junction, Oregon. Call him at 541-450-3341 or visit www.thegoodearthorganics.com.
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