Cover crops for a small backyard garden

Asked October 18, 2019, 3:55 PM EDT

Hello! I have a few cover crop questions: 1.) When is it too late in the season to plant cover crops? 2.) What types of cover crops do you suggest for small backyard garden beds? We're looking for something that will prevent erosion but won't spread and take over. We have 4 raised beds about 5ft. long by 3ft. wide. Two of them have young blueberry bushes in them, and two are for annual veggies. 3.) Does the cooperative extension sell cover crop seeds? Thanks so much for your advice!

Montgomery County Maryland cover crops types

1 Response

Usually it is recommended to plant cover crops by early October. However, with warmer temperatures we have been experiencing it is okay to plant cover crops now.

Sow oats if this is your first time trying a cover crop or if you want to be able to plant early spring vegetables. Oats are killed by the first hard freeze, leaving a brown decomposing mat in spring. Other options include crimson clover and winter rye. The rye can be planted later than other cover crops but has a deep root system difficult to turn under in the spring unless you have access to a tiller.
See our page on cover crops for more information and our video https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/cover-crops-protect-and-improve-your-soil

We do not recommend a cover crop around your blueberries. They have a shallow root system and should not be disturbed. You can just mulch them. See more https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/mulching-and-irrigation-small-fruits

We do not sell cover crop seeds. You can look in local farm co-op stores or online sources.

Marian