Why Cover Crops Are The Best Way to Winterize the Garden
Living in Canada where we are exposed to 4 seasons, it also means that our garden is exposed to those changes in temperature. Just as you or I want to bundle up when the days get short and the air crisp so does the garden.
As you start to clear out the summer crops and harvest your last bounty it is a good idea to start thinking about planting cover crops to get your garden ready for winter. This year I am trying fava beans, winter field peas, and crimson clover.
In my opinion, the best way to winterize your garden is to plant cover crops. Cover crops will keep your garden looking green, protect and fix your soil, and provide you with free fertilizer.
I especially love cover crops because the garden I use most right now is at the elementary school with the kids. They absolutely love planting seeds and It is really great to get them in on the winterizing.
Another benefit to cover crops is that they provide winter habitat for beneficial winter insects. The beneficial insects are the ones that keep the pests in check and away from our garden. In addition, cover crops compete with and prevent weed seeds in your garden. Need I say more?
Some people like to use other forms of winterizing, like straw, wood chips, cardboard, leaves, and even plastic. I do like to use leaves as well but only in a thin layer and chopped up to help it to break down.
I really like the idea of having a luscious garden in the winter even if most of the plants in the garden are cover crops and not edible. Plants are so much more alive to me, rather then the dead looking debris of the previously listed winterizing options.
The rain here on the west coast of Canada can get pretty harsh. For the garden, this means that the rains can easily wash away all of the nutrients from our soil in one season. This is why we want to protect our precious soil that we spend so much time building up.
A cover crop will prevent soil erosion and protect it from the rain. On top of this magical protection they provide, they will also replenish and fix nitrogen in your soil. Kind of like little miracle helpers right? This is what it is all about in life, working together with nature.
I have yet one more benefit; come spring time, you chop up the cover crop and leave it to decompose for just over a week and then til it under the soil. This adds organic matter (green manure) to your soil and creates an instant fertilizer and soil builder.
By now you must agree with me that cover crops are the way to go when winterizing your garden am I right?
So do some research, choose a cover crop that fits your needs and will grow well in your region.
If you are in Canada, I recommend using West Coast Seeds to do your research.
Thanks for reading ♡
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