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using cover crops within crops

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using cover crops within crops

Post  redfred on 2/16/2011, 8:42 am

I was wondering if you can use cover crops in and amongst plants to help keep down weed and maintain soil moisture in the growing season . especially under tomato plants and others that have a small footprint compared to to its foliage. If so which cover crops are best with certain crops? Also would beans be ok to plant under tomatos.

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Re: using cover crops within crops

Post  Megan on 2/16/2011, 8:53 am

Hi redfred, welcome to the forum! glad you\'re here

Cover crops are typically grown after a harvest. They help restore nutrients to the soil (by root action and/or being tilled under later as green manure) and their roots help prevent erosion. They can be big plants in their own right. So I don't think you would want to try to plant them around tomatoes. (And both beans and tomatoes are space hogs, they would not want to share anyway.)

To help keep down weeds and retain moisture, I would recommend mulching, instead. Ideally, with Mel's Mix, you won't have weeds at all! But I have wind-blown weed seeds that I keep on battling.

One thing you can do, in SFG, is to grow a quick crop while something else more slow-growing is maturing. So, you might be able to sneak in 4 radishes around a small tomato plant seedling, in-and-out again before the tomato needs the full square.
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Re: using cover crops within crops

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 2/16/2011, 9:40 am

Hi,

I think I agree with not planting a cover crop under your tomatoes, however alyssum is supposed to work very well. It is a pretty low growing flower. Please take this advice with a grain of salt, as I have not tried it. I have purchased my seeds for this summers experiment. I got the idea from a pottagers garden forum. I will report later in the summer. Almost time to plant peas!!!

Patty in Yorktown
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Re: using cover crops within crops

Post  Megan on 2/16/2011, 9:42 am

Hi Patty! Good to see you again.

I remember alyssum with absolute horror from Southern California. It was incredibly invasive there, at least. *shudder* We planted one and after that we had a yard full.

Good luck with your peas. I am crossing my fingers I will get some this spring!
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Re: using cover crops within crops

Post  jerzyjen on 2/16/2011, 10:25 am

Patty from Yorktown wrote:Hi,

I think I agree with not planting a cover crop under your tomatoes, however alyssum is supposed to work very well. It is a pretty low growing flower. Please take this advice with a grain of salt, as I have not tried it. I have purchased my seeds for this summers experiment. I got the idea from a pottagers garden forum. I will report later in the summer. Almost time to plant peas!!!

Patty in Yorktown

I hadn't ever thought of this! Keep us posted on your experiment. Also, there is a pottagers garden forum?? Can you share the address or is it a private forum? I'd be interested in looking, as I'm trying turn my sfg into a potager style....
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Re: using cover crops within crops

Post  quiltbea on 2/16/2011, 11:42 am

While cover drops are growing they are using up the nutrients in the soil, that's why they are sown after the harvest.
They are considered a green manure crop.
The idea is for the roots to tunnel deep befkore hard winter and break up and aerate the soil.
In the spring the cover crop is cut down so the then dead roots can feed the soil and the cuttings can be buried under to also feed the soil. If done early enuf in the spring, the green cuttings will no longer use up nutrients in the soil in their act of turning brown.

If you want to plant something as a companion, plant radishes or early leaf lettuce under the tomatoes so they can share for some of the time. They will be harvested before the tomatoes crowd out the whole area and need all the nutrients for themselves.

I feel its best to mulch them with hay (no weed seeds) or dried grass to keep the weeds down and the soil from drying out in the heat of summer.

With a small SFG to tend you can always experminent and see what works for you.
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Re: using cover crops within crops

Post  Odd Duck on 2/16/2011, 11:43 am

You might also google "permaculture". That should lead you to some sites that talk about cover crops in among the veggie crops.

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