cover crop (n.):
A crop, such as winter rye or clover, planted between periods of regular crop production in order to prevent soil erosion, nutrient runoff, weed infestation, soil compaction, and provide humus or nitrogen, while luring beneficial insects to the garden in spring. (What more could you want!)
Here we are in early December 2011, surrounded by cover crop, the occasional frost, and a few nature loving visitors. While some delicious kale, rainbow chard, arugula, radishes, carrots and beets (!!!) remain in our fall garden section, this post is primarily concerned with cover crops. While cover crop in farming is not a new practice, it is increasing in popularity as researchers and scientists broaden their scope on the effects of a variety of cover crop on both small scale organic gardens and large monoculture production farms. Here at WYG, cover crop is our favorite, cheapest, and prettiest soil amendment… prettiest especially in early spring when the crimson clover is up to your waist, blooming with strawberry sized flowers, and buzzing with bumblebees. Learn more about cover crop at Cornell University Collage of Agriculture and Life Sciences, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (that’s a mouth full).