Monday, July 1, 2013

7 Reasons to Cover-Crop with Wheat

Since beginning gardening two years ago when we first bought our house, I have been researching ways to make our garden more time and cost efficient.  The first year we tilled/fertilized/weeded in an ongoing cycle of weed growth and plant disruption.  Since then we began incorporating using lawn clippings as mulch and fertllizing with chicken poop from our coop.  This has really helped save time and money and benefits garden's healthcare regimen.  Last fall we decided to choose a nitrogen-fixing cover crop that would function in many ways.  Here are my top 7 reasons reasons why this worked out so well for this years garden. 

1.  To decrease weed growth
2.  To bring nitrogen to the surface where beneficial bacteria "fix" it into nitrogen that is usable by other plants. 
3.  To prevent soil erosion. 
4.  As chicken fodder. 
5.  To use as a mulch when it is ready to cut. 
6.  To help promote good habitat for worms and beneficial insects. 
7.  To help maintain moisture in the soil.

These are just some of the benefits, but if we add in the time it has saved us in weeding and on mulches and fertilizer the pros would far surpass any cons. 

Fall 2012, winter wheat growing in.  The red building at the back left is the chicken coop. 

May 2013, the wheat was still green but starting to seed out.  We tilled it down in between the rows so we could plant garden veggies. 

The tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, sunflowers, squash, zucchini, okra and melons getting big and the wheat drying out. 

Pickling cucumbers using some wheat stalks for support. 

The cut wheat providing hours of fun for the chickens, walking paths for us and most importantly mulch so I don't have to weed as much!
The 2013 summer garden!

Off to a great start thanks to cover-cropping.