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Sow Summer Cover Crops

If you have open garden space that will become your winter garden, sow cover crops there now, and then transplant your fall or winter vegetables into the bed once you’ve harvested the cover crops.

These crops can be cut down and chopped into the soil to add nutrients, with extra biomass added to your compost bin. Also, their flowers will attract beneficial insects.

Here are three summer cover crops that can be sown anytime from May to the end of July:

  1. Buckwheat – Produces a lot of organic matter and accumulates phosphorus, which is released to the soil when chopping it in.  Maturity: 6-8 weeks.
  2. Bush bean – Good for beds that will host winter veggies with high nutrient needs, such as brassicas and alliums. They “fixate” nitrogen on their roots, which is released to the soil when chopping it in. Maturity: 8 weeks.
  3. Calendula – These cheery orange flowers spread so readily in our climate that many gardeners see them as a weed. As a cover crop, though, they outgrow other more invasive and damaging weeds. Also the flowers make great cut bouquets. Maturity: 10 weeks.