Building Healthy Soils in Vegetable Gardens: Cover Crops Have Got It Covered Part III: Selecting Cover Crops for Vegetable Gardens

Megan M. Gregory, Blog Contributor, Cover Crop Nerd, and Graduate Research Assistant, Cornell University

This article is part of a four-part series about cover cropping in vegetable gardens.  Stay tuned for Part III next week. 

As I outlined in Part I and II of this series, cover crops can serve many purposes in small-scale vegetable gardens, including soil quality improvement, nitrogen (N) fixation, weed suppression, and habitat for beneficial insects.  To achieve maximum benefits from cover crops, it’s important to select appropriate species (or species mixtures) for each garden bed.  In this article I’ll highlight promising annual cover crop species for different seasonal niches, management goals, and environmental conditions.  Much of this information is based on preliminary results from two seasons of cover crop research in Brooklyn, NY community gardens.1

Read more in Part III: Cover Crops III – Selecting Cover Crops

3 thoughts on “Building Healthy Soils in Vegetable Gardens: Cover Crops Have Got It Covered Part III: Selecting Cover Crops for Vegetable Gardens”

  1. I am mowing fields and using the cut biomass for mulch. My observation is that the areas with harry vetch and tall grass mix produce the greatest mass and maintain the productivity from year to year compared to other mixes.
    We have a milder winter than at the article site; two separate weeks down to 20 degrees this last winter and a dry period from July to mid September.
    I use much of the cut biomass to mulch perennials during the dry period. For new planting beds I put down a one foot layer and cover with carpet to over winter which kills most existing vegetation and encourages soil organisms to do the cultivation.
    I usually have some surplus cuttings with vetch that has formed pods. I put that in fluffy windrows where there is no vetch during the dry season to drop seed before storing for greenhouse use.

  2. Thanks for all the great info. The chart is so helpful and great to use as a reference. I never realized all the benefits of cover crops.

  3. What are some good cover crops for a clay soil that has a compacted plow pan layer? I would like something I can grow between rows of vegetables in summer and/or sow in late summer to overwinter. I’m in Zone 7 in central Virginia.

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