Our Garden Cover Up Mix grows vigorously until killing frost, giving you a spring mulch needing very little to no preparation before planting. Ideal for cool season gardens. This mix will loosen topsoil while protecting from winter erosion and nutrient loss and suppress weeds. The surface residue and root volume provides food for soil microorganisms to create more healthy soil.
Our mix is focused on improving soil health and microorganism biodiversity, adding organic matter and carbon content to the soil along with weed suppression. Side benefits include attracting beneficial insects, increasing spring nitrogen availability and reducing wind and water erosion of the soil. The Garden Cover Up Mix is made up of 70% legumes and 30% grasses.
Ideal planting times are early August through mid-September. Can be planted around mature garden vegetables or in spaces left as older plants are removed. Lightly broadcast seeds and work into the top half inch of moist soil, or cover with 1/2 inch of mulch or compost. Water to equivalent of 1 inch of rainfall per week until seedlings become established. Do not fertilize the cover crop mix as this delays the nitrogen fixing action of the legumes.
These rates will give a thick cover crop for maximum weed suppression and soil benefits.
1 lb will seed approximately 200 sq. feet of garden beds
8 oz will seed approximately 100 sq. feet of garden beds
4 oz will seed approximately 50 sq. feet of garden beds
Legumes in the mix –
Crimson Clover – Annual legume, used as a nitrogen fixer, soil improver/builder, erosion preventer, ground cover and for forage.
Gives moderately lasting mulch after frost kill, is an excellent forage crop for the high amounts of forage produced. It has good heat tolerance, does well in low fertility soils – making it a first choice for soil improvement. It has a wide soil pH tolerance, is good at freeing up bound nutrients in soil, loosening topsoil, improving soil disease resistance and choking weeds and weed seeds out. Because of its extensive, bright red flowering tops it is unsurpassed at attracting beneficial insects and pollinators and grows vigorously in a shorter time frame.
In areas of freezing winters, clover will be frost killed while in warmer winter areas it will need to be mowed or weed whacked to kill it.
Horizon Forage Pea – Annual legume, valued as a high nitrogen fixer, weed suppressor and forage that creates a high root mass, adding organic matter to the soil. Excellent soil improver, and good erosion control, weed suppression and grazing choice.
Does not produce as much mulch after frost kill as crimson clover, but the mulch lasts longer, and is another high value forage crop. Has moderate drought tolerance. Very good to excellent at loosening topsoil, reducing destructive nematode populations and is excellent in improving soil disease resistance, weed suppression and attracting beneficials and pollinators. Quick growing in a short time frame.
Hairy Vetch – Annual legume used to fix nitrogen, suppress weeds, loosen and condition topsoil and reduce erosion while improving soil organic matter and carbon content.
Considered to be excellent as a soil builder/improver and good at controlling erosion and weeds while supplying grazing or forage. Good drought and shade tolerance, and grows well in a wide pH range. Its extensive root systems drill down into the subsoil and bring up deep nutrients, while also freeing up unavailable phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients. Very effective in reducing soil disease and choking out weeds and is exemplary in attracting beneficial insects. One of the only legume that provides an allelopathic residue, hindering the germination of many weeds the next season.
Grains in the mix –
Cereal Oats – Annual grain used to suppress weeds, prevent erosion, scavenge excess nutrients, add biomass and as a nurse crop.
Oats are excellent as a quick, weed suppressing biomass supplier that has a moderately lasting mulch. They take up excess soil nutrients, making them available next season without leaching from water flowing through the soil. They will tolerate low fertility soils and improve the structure with their extensive root systems. The roots loosen topsoil, smother weeds and provide an allelopathic residue which hinders the germination of many weeds the next season. Oats are also an excellent nurse companion crop to legumes, increasing the fertilizer and nitrogen fixing values.
Cereal Rye – Annual grain used for erosion prevention, soil structure and drainage improvement, adding organic matter to soil, weed suppression and excess nutrient scavenger.
Cereal rye is also excellent as a quick growing, weed suppressing biomass supplier that scavenges excess nitrogen and recycles it for the next growing season. The organic matter it produces lasts moderately long, providing a good mulch after it is killed. It is a good forage producer, but not as good as some of the legumes in the mix. It excels in loosening topsoil and adding organic matter via its root mass, as well as choking weeds. It is good at drilling down deep into the subsoil and bringing up deep nutrients, as well as freeing locked up phosphorus and potassium, encouraging beneficial microorganisms and reducing soil disease. It provides an allelopathic residue which hinders the germination of many weeds the next season, like oats.
Buckwheat – Annual grain providing a quick soil cover and stabilization, weed suppressor, pollinator and beneficial insect nectar source, topsoil loosener and low fertility soil rejuvenator.
Buckwheat has been used extensively in organic agriculture as a quick-acting summer smother crop for weeds. It is heat tolerant and breaks down quickly, adding nutrients to the soil while making way for the longer lived cover crops. It excels in freeing up locked nutrients, especially phosphorus and potassium as well as choking weeds out and loosening topsoil. It also has an extensive root system, bringing up deep nutrients to the surface, encouraging beneficial microorganisms, reducing soil diseases and provides an allelopathic residues like oats and ryegrass.
First time I've used a cover crop; planted 6 weeks ago in 1/2 of my garden because the other half was still producing. Easy to plant, grew quickly with great coverage. The best part is that everywhere the cover crop was planted there are NO WEEDS! Morning glory has been my biggest problem and I have none where I planted the cover crop. Seeing the comparison between the two halves has made me a believer... already re-ordered enough for the whole garden for next year, and plan on using it in my flower beds, too. Highly recommend!