What are cover crops?
Cover crops are plants that grow throughout the fall or even into the winter, protecting the soil. Some popular kinds of cover crops are grasses, like winter rye or oats, and various tyoes of legumes, like alfalfa, clover or vetch. Seeds can be mixed and sowed together.
What are the benefits? Cover crops help:
Control Erosion-- winter can be windy, cold and snowy... three things that can wear away topsoil.
Cover crops are a great way to "cover" the soil and protect it from the elements.
Keep soil healthy-- in the spring, cover crops are tilled into the soil, before they go to seed. This adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil, increasing water retention and drainage, improving aeration, enhancing decomposition...basically, keeping soil healthy for spring planting.
Control weeds--weeds can compete with other plants in your garden, essentially stealing all the good parts of your soil. Cover crops can shade and smother weeds or release chemicals that prevent weed seeds from germinating.
When should you start?
September is a good time to plant your cover crops, although if you live in a warmer climate that has milder winters, or in colder climate you can adjust your planting time, depends on your region, the soils needs and your tools.
the Gardening Season
1) Plant short season crops for the fall...
Certain vegetables, like sugar snap peas, radishes, lettuce and turnipa, mature relatively quickly, and grow better in cooler weather. Planting them late in the summer can yield a harvest well into the fall.
2) Bring the out doors inside...
You can extend the growing season for eggplant and pepper plants by transplanting them from the garden to indoor pots. Just make sure they're healthy and insect free, and you have a sunn location for them.