Friday, March 13, 2009

Cover Crops- Investing in the Future

Last year was our first season growing crops here at The Funny Farm. Production in some of the beds was not up to par. We decided to focus on the long-term health of the soil food web through the fall and winter. We planted those beds in a cover crop of rye and clover to build up organic matter and nutrients. We inoculated the clover seed with rhizobium bacteria so that together they would capture nitrogen from the air. Before planting we tilled in fresh horse manure and bedding to add even more organic matter and nutrients.
We got a good stand of cover through the winter. Yesterday i cut the stand with a weed eater and then tilled all of that lush green foliage into the soil and re-shaped the beds. I will leave it alone for a week or 2 to give the soil microorganisms time to consume all that organic matter to store it for future crops. Tilling really aerates the soil stimulating soil bacteria into a feeding frenzy so the cover crop will be quickly consumed. This will be the last time these beds get tilled. We will let the fungal component establish itself and remain undisturbed.
We expect good production from these beds this season.


Barb and Steve said...

Thanks so much for this post. I have been thinking about cover crops all week..what to plant, etc. You have helped me understand more about them.

San Diego Farmgirl said...

We should have planted cover crops this winter, our soil is horrible. At least we made compost, I guess that's something! I'm having lots of fun with container gardening though, so no rush I suppose.

Country Girl said...

Great idea. Good thought for the future.