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Plant a Summer Cover Crop

Protect and enrich soil, reduce storm water runoff and reduce weeds with cover crops. These plants are grown in vacant spaces in the landscape to protect and prepare beds for future plantings.

Many gardeners plant cover crops in late summer or fall to prepare the soil for a spring planting. Late spring and early summer crops can be planted in gardens where the soil is worn out or as part of crop rotation.

Buckwheat is a popular summer cover crop that is often used for suppressing weeds. It needs 35 to 40 days to reach maturity. Till buckwheat plants into the soil six weeks after planting and reseed if your season is long enough. Or wait for it to go to seed, till plants in the soil and allow seedlings to develop. Plant a winter cover crop in fall to further improve the soil.

A bit more information:  Sudangrass is also used as a summer crop cover. Its strong deep root system helps reduce compaction and increase organic matter. It takes 60 to 70 days to be effective. Monitor sudangrass and make the first cutting when plants are 3 feet tall and a second time when it can still be cut, but before killed by frost. Once cover crops are tilled into the soil they are considered green manure.

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