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Cover crops for gardens

Living the Country Life Radio Program with Betsy Freese

Green manure

Listen to this radio show (MP3 download) or read below.

Radio interview source: Alan Sundermeier, Extension educator, Ohio State University

We have a lot of sheep, so I have a constant supply of manure to dress my gardens. I realize some people don't want to be anywhere near manure, so another suggestion for building up garden beds is to turn under living vegetation.

Whether you have a large garden or a tiny patch in the corner of the yard, you'll benefit from having a cover crop over the winter. It's an inexpensive way to build up the soil and suppress weeds. When you till it up in the spring, nutrients are returned to the soil.

Alan Sundermeier is an Extension educator at Ohio State University, and says you want something growing at all times. This improves the quality of the soil and the productivity of plants. Plant your cover crop after your main garden varieties are finished.

"After an early harvested vegetable like peas may come off in mid-season and you don't have time to plant another vegetable, this would be a good time -- after sweet corn or something even later in the gardening cycle," Sundermeier says. "As long as you have about 60 days or so of growing time before hard-killing frost, that should be enough time to establish a cover crop."

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