BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Now that Fall is here, you might be wondering, what are you going to put in the ground?
Lucky for us, Master Gardner from Bedford County Jim Revell gives us All the Dirt on cover crops.
Revell says cover crops are crops that cover the soil for the fall and winter seasons. There are many benefits to planting cover crops. He says it prevents soil erosion, keeps nutrients in the soil, maintains moisture in the soil, and builds organic matter in the soil.
Revell likes to use a variety of cover crops. However, legumes such as peas or beans are popular ones because they can fix the nitrogen in the soil, especially after a season of growing corn in that soil.
If you have compacted soil, Revell recommends planting daikon radishes.
“It has a tendency to make a very big taproot which helps break up the soil. It will also store the mineral content, nutrient content. Then, it will generally die if you get a hard freeze, it will die back and then you’ve got the cover for the winter,” said Revell.
The goal of cover crops is to protect and build up your soil, but you can harvest some of these cover crops. If you’re into making bread, Revell says you can grow winter wheat. Any of the legumes can be grown to harvest as well. Revell says growing cover crops will give you a great head start for the Spring growing season.
“The one key thing is those plants will actually take up the nutrients and store those nutrients and then come Spring and Summer it will actually help reduce the amount of fertilizer you may need because you’re building that soil. And the healthier the soil, the healthier the plants, the less issues you will have,” explained Revell.