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Cover crops

4448 Views 7 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  stephanie

Vicia villosa

You can grow a cover crop to help build the soil. Plant a grain or legume crop, sometimes called green manure, for the purpose of chopping it down and adding it to the soil.

One way is to plant hairy vetch (Vicia villosa), a nitrogen-fixing legume, in your garden bed in the fall. In the spring, cut it down and till the residue into the soil. This provides both nitrogen and an instant mulch that preserves moisture.

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I found the above article and video so I think I will try these around my tomato plants any thoughts?
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I planted winter rye in my soon-to-be-a-garden plot here in Western Mass; I bought 2 lbs of seed at my local gardening center. I have cardboard down over the whole plot, and a layer of dirt mulch over about 1/3 of the cardboard. The rye grew very well, and helped the cardboard break down pretty fast. My hens, and the wild turkeys that pass through the yard, liked it very much until the snow covered it up. If it grows tall in the spring, I'll just cut it and toss it in the chicken run. No nitrogen fixation, but at least it helped with the cardboard and should add some organic matter to the soil.
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