If your crop of potatoes or vegetables can be harvested early enough, make sure to plan for and plant a cover crop.
What is the benefit of planting a cover crop in late summer? There are, in fact, many benefits. Cover crops have been proven to provide several things, all of them good and none of them bad. A cover crop is an investment in your soil which will:
- Increase organic matter and fertility,
- Improve soil structure and drainage,
- Prevent erosion,
- Tie up leachable nutrients such as nitrogen and sulfur,
- Stimulate soil microbial activity, and
- Compete against weeds.
Here are two specialty cover crops to try:
Legumes, for example Faba Beans, have a symbiotic relationship with specific bacteria. These bacteria are able to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it to a plant-usable form, a process known as ‘nitrogen fixing’. The bacteria grow in nodules that develop on the roots. Up to 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre can be obtained – without spending money on fertilizer!
Also known as daikon or forage radishes, Aerifi Tillage Radish seedlings develop a thick white taproot which can grow 45cm deep and punch through a compacted plough pan. Left to decompose, the cavities they create serve as channels for air and water, vastly improving soil health. Even better, some tillage radishes are known for their bio-fumigant properties. Their residues can suppress troublesome nematodes and other soil-borne organisms.