Grow Your Own Nitrogen

vetch cover crop

Nitrogen (N) helps plants use carbohydrates to gain energy, like certain foods we eat help us to gain energy. Nitrogen controls how plants take their form and how they function inside, and nitrogen helps plants make protein that help them grow strong and healthy. Humans and animals benefit from eating vegetables and plants that are …

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Winter Rye

rye cover crip

The hardiest of cereals, rye can be seeded later in fall than other cover crops and still provide considerable dry matter, an extensive soil-holding root system, significant reduction of nitrate leaching and exceptional weed suppression. Inexpensive and easy to establish, rye outperforms all other cover crops on infertile, sandy or acidic soil or on poorly …

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White Sweet Clover

monarch butterfly on white sweetclover

Sweet clovers (both white and yellow) are excellent soil-builders because they have a deep taproot that extends through the soil profile which takes up nutrients and minerals that can be used by crops. What is the difference between white (Melilotus alba) and yellow (Melilotus officinalis) sweet clovers? The biennial yellow sweet clover takes two years …

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Yellow Sweet Clover

Melilotus officinalis - Sweet Clover

Melilotus officinalis or Yellow Sweetclover was the king of green manures and grazing legumes in the South and later throughout the Midwest in the first half of this century. Sweetclover is used as a cover crop most commonly now in the Plains region. This cool-season biennial is an expert at mining insoluble minerals like potassium …

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Hairy Vetch

Vicia villosa - Hairy Vetch

It is said that few legumes match Vicia villosa or “hairy vetch” for spring residue production or nitrogen contribution. Widely adapted and winter hardy through Hardiness Zone 4 and into Zone 3 (with snow cover), hairy vetch is a top nitrogen provider. The cover grows slowly in fall, but root development continues over winter. Growth …

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Crimson Clover

Trifolium incarnatum- Crimson Clover

Trifolium incarnatum, the botanical name for Crimson Clover means “blood red”. Crimson clover is a cool-season annual (in southern states) that is relatively easy to grow and is more tolerant of poor soils than other clovers. A benefit of crimson clover is it is relatively inexpensive. It is less than half the price of perennial …

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5 Easy Steps to Sustainable Gardening

organic green beans

1) Observe your space Where is the sun / shade? (watch the patterns during the growing season throughout the day) How is the land sloped? (south faces warmer & sunnier than north – use to your advantage!) Is it windy? (plant some trees or shrubs to act as a windbreak!) 2) Think about what you …

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