Shopping Cart

Enrich your soil with Cover Crops

Posted by Kendal & the Gubba Team
16th Feb 2024

Enrich your soil with Cover Crops

When it comes to cultivating a thriving & happy home garden, there’s one easy practice we think everyone should try: cover cropping! It’s an easy technique that involves planting specific crops not for harvest, but to revitalise your garden soil. Cover crops (also known as green manure, green crops, or manure crops), are quick to grow, require very little maintenance, and improve soil structure & quality by replacing lost nutrients.

Read on to learn about the benefits of cover crops, how to choose the right ones for your garden, and some simple steps you can follow to get started with cover crops in your garden.

The Basics of Cover Crops

Cover crops are typically planted during periods when the garden bed would otherwise be empty, such as after harvesting your main crops or during the ‘off’ season. Instead of leaving your soil bare, cover crops step in to protect and improve your soil. Once you’re done with your cover crops, they can be used as mulch and added back into the soil as valuable organic matter.

The Benefits of Cover Crops

  • Soil Enrichment: Cover crops act as natural fertilisers, enriching the soil with essential nutrients. Legumes, like clover and peas, even have the ability to fix nitrogen, providing an organic source of this vital nutrient for your plants.
  • Weed Suppression: A well-established cover crop creates a living mulch that helps suppress weeds. By shading the soil, cover crops reduce the chances of weed germination.
  • Erosion Prevention: The roots of cover crops help bind the soil together, preventing erosion. This is especially important in areas with heavy rainfall or sloping terrain.
  • Pest Control: Some cover crops release natural compounds that can repel or inhibit the growth of certain pests. This can contribute to a healthier, more balanced garden ecosystem.

Choosing the Right Cover Crops

Selecting the right cover crops for your garden depends on various factors, including your location, climate, and specific needs in your garden (i.e. soil improvement or pest prevention). Here are a few popular cover crop varieties to consider:

  • Legumes: Clover and peas are excellent choices for adding nitrogen into the soil, improving soil fertility, and attracting beneficial insects.
  • Grasses: Annual grasses like rye and oats work well for suppressing weeds and adding organic matter to the soil.
  • Brassicas: Plants like mustard and radishes have deep roots that help break up compacted soil while also providing pest-resistant qualities.
  • Mixes: Plant a mix of cover crops to enjoy a combination of benefits. For example, a mix of clover and rye can provide both nitrogen fixation and weed suppression. You can buy cover crop seed mixes, or mix your own varieties depending on what your specific garden needs this season.

Implementing Cover Crops in Your Garden

When should I sow cover crops?
Typically, cover crops are sown in late summer, or in autumn after harvesting your main crops.

How do I sow cover crops?
Spread the cover crop seeds evenly over the soil surface. Lightly rake or pat them into the soil to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.

Maintaining your cover crops
One of the best parts of cover cropping is the minimal maintenance required. Just keep an eye on your cover crops as they grow; if they become too tall or start flowering, mow or cut them down before they go to seed.

Making way for your main crops
About 4-6 weeks before it's time to plant out your main crops again, chop down your cover crops and either dig/till them back into the soil or leave them as mulch. Make sure you chop them down while the stems are still soft and green. Giving the crops a few weeks to incorporate back into the soil before replanting is key!

Cover cropping is a simple technique that can have a big impact. It’s a natural, easy, and affordable way to enhance soil fertility and contribute to a more sustainable and resilient garden ecosystem. So don’t leave any garden beds empty this “off” season, get some cover crops in to do the hard work for you!

We have a pre-mixed Cover Crop blend available here. It has been created here in NZ to suit our environment, and contains a diverse seed mix that has been carefully selected for its nitrogen-fixing capabilities, robust defense against pests and diseases, and facilitation of organic matter breakdown.


© Gubba Products Ltd. Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy