Parker Garlitz shares valuable information about growing cover crops in the backyard garden.
Jackie asked if the cover crops that Parker sent her can be planted now as they will be getting a frost any day. Parker said they are usually pretty hearty and it's probably not too late to put them in the ground.
Parker is a cofounder of True Leaf Market who sell seeds wholesale to seed companies around the world as well as direct to people around the globe. Garden seeds including vegetable herb and flowers, specialty seeds like Asian greens, cotton and tobacco seeds as well as the indoor market like vertical farms and micro green and sprout growers.
A cover crop is basically an off season crop you grow after your primary agricultural crop or garden crop to provide a whole bunch of potential benefits not the least of which is soil rehabilitation and adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil and really making for healthy soil. It will help increase your yields and production over the years.
What healthy soil is: ground rock and sand, decaying organic matter that supports bacteria and earth worms and other living things and soil and the crops that grow in it. Soil has important nutrients. Everyone knows NPK the big three, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, but really true nutrient soil that provides nutrients to human health are the micro nutrients that get leached out of soil and are never replenished especially with big agro-business.
Things like selenium, sulfur, or copper or zinc or the other trace minerals that soil takes up. So adding those micro nutrients is important for soil health. Soil also has a texture, that is not too sandy or like clay. Cover crops help by adding many or most of those things back into the soil.
Most people think of them for large farming but they are great for backyard gardeners and dollar for dollar the biggest bang for your buck as they are super affordable.
Cover crops are almost sort of like self composting adding to your soil. Especially finding enough compost for your garden is a challenge and can be expensive.
Jackie talks about her failure with covering quack grass with cardboard and compost that has overgrown and how her husband and her argue over who gets the compost and how this is a great solution for creating healthy soil.
Jackie also talks about how cover cropping can be intimidating and how this will make it easier for people.
Anna Hess’ Homegrown Humus is a great primer for learning about cover crops.
Parker explains the two methods for terminating cover crops and the pros and cons of both. No till and tilling it into the beds.
It's already pre-inoculated which will help your soil absorb nitrogen from the root nodules that grow on the cover crop roots. Jackie talks about how this is a great solution for her listeners because they have made a mix so we don't have to worry about all the different options etc as many guests have talked about the importance of feeding your soil and this will help make it simple.
Some other benefits include more than soil rehabilitation. Mustards typically have pest control, making nematodes in the soil difficult. They can trap moisture, they provide competition for weeds. Great off season options for pollinators attracting local pollinator population.
Jackie mentions maximizing photosynthesis by helping keep soil covered within 24 hours instead of letting it sit bare after harvest.
Parker also talks about growing cover crops in containers and small backyard deep beds. Jackie mentions how they buy 2 giant Peaco bags of soil every year to replace soil in their garden pots and beds.
Jackie also mentions how last year she ordered raspberry plants from Peaceful Valley to plant in a bed she had planted with buckwheat a few years ago. This is the perfect time to get beds ready for fall.
Twelve Lessons designed to help you create an earth friendly landscape, some deep garden beds full of nutrient rich healthy food or perhaps even develop a natural market farm.
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