Cover Crops

You may notice on the garden map that several plots have been assigned as ‘cover crops’, something new we are piloting this year after a couple years of discussion about it.  The cover crops we are planting include buckwheat (large leaves and white flowers) and mustard (yellow flowers).  Both are widely used by gardeners and small farms around the US as ‘smother crops’, plant varieties ideally selected to outcompete weeds.  In addition to weed suppression, we selected plots that have been continuously in use for several years.  The cover crops have qualities that replenish depleted soil to include adding nutrients and controlling soil borne pathogens that harm vegetable plants (mustard controls nematodes). You’ll also especially like the fact that these plants attract pollinators.  Buckwheat is one of the most desirable plants for honey producers and is commonly interplanted with crops like fruit trees that are particularly dependent on pollination. While scattered around the garden, the best place to see the two cover crops is the far eastern edge, covering the whole row of four plots.  This not only serves as sort of a “demonstration garden” but also recognizes that these plots have always been at risk of people cutting the corner too closely and accidentally driving over them–better to have that happen to cover crops than one of our gardener’s vegetable gardens.