Are you going to have a gap in your vegetable garden this summer? Maybe the spring peas are gone and the beans soon will be too. It’s too early for the fall crop to be planted so now there’s an empty space that’s just sitting there. And growing weeds! Think about getting in a quick cover crop that can mature and be turned under before you need that space for the fall garden.
NCSU Extension Horticultural Information Leaflet Summer Cover Crops points out that the use of short season annual legumes or grasses as cover crops can provide nitrogen for subsequent crops, reduce soil erosion and suppress those weeds.
Choose carefully or your cover crop may become a dreaded weed. Don’t be like the gentleman who purchased a pound of “grass seed” from the local hardware store, strewed it over the open area and then, in mid-October, asked when he’d be able to plant his peas because “that grass keeps growing.”
One option is buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) a very rapidly-growing, broadleaf summer annual which can flower in 4 to 6 weeks. The optimal time for incorporation is a week after flowering but before seed is set.
There are other options so check the garden centers to see what they have. It wouldn’t hurt to plan your winter cover crops too.
For more information:
Cover Crops for Organic Farms http://content.ces.ncsu.edu/cover-crops-for-organic-farms.pdf
Summer Cover Crops http://content.ces.ncsu.edu/summer-cover-crops/
Winter Cover Crops http://growingsmallfarms.ces.ncsu.edu/growingsmallfarms-wintercrops/