cover crop mix

Asked October 2, 2017, 12:43 PM EDT

What is the best cover crop mix to plant in a veg. garden in southern Ohio this time of year. Hoping to help w/ compaction below tilling depth.

Warren County Ohio cover crops

1 Response

Hello-

Thanks for reaching out. As you likely well know, cover crops can provide a host of benefits to the soil when managed properly. At this time of the year, the options for cover crops are quite limited, due to the limited time available for establishment.

If you feel comfortable that there will be at least 45 days available for growth before freezing temperatures, I might consider a mix of annual ryegrass and field/winter pea. The annual ryegrass will put down some deep roots while the peas, as a legume, will fix nitrogen.

Be advised, though, that both of these cover crops may winter-kill if cold temperatures without snow occur. In addition, if suitable warm temperatures do not occur this fall, establishment will be poor.

In the spring, these covers should either be mowed or sprayed and tilled into the soil a couple weeks before planting.

Another option with more flexibility for later fall planting is cereal rye. If this is used, winter kill is not a concern but be advised that if this is not properly terminated in the spring, it will grow very tall (6ft+) and go to seed, potentially introducing unwanted rye "weed" seeds.

For more information, check out the Cover Crop Selector tool (http://mccc.msu.edu/covercroptool/covercroptool.php) or these articles:

https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/fs304.pdf
https://extension.illinois.edu/gardenerscorner/issue_06/fall_05_09.cfm