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Winter cover for garden beds

Master Gardeners agree that soil should not be left uncovered. Bare soil will dry out and blow away, so plant something green to protect soil from dehydration and erosion. Uncovered soil will soon display a blanket of weeds. No gardener wants to spend time in early spring removing weeds before planting. Unplanted soil has no way to obtain nutrients for next year’s crop. Think about planting a cover crop that will provide “green manure” in the spring to replenish your soil.

In rural Gloucester County, we often see winter fields planted in cover crops like red clover. In the spring the cover crop is mowed and either tilled into the soil or left on the surface to decompose. Either method will convert the cover crop into organic matter that will add nutrients to the soil.

Healthy soil produces vigorous fruit, vegetables, and flowers. VCE Publication CSES-132P “The Soil and Me: A Perspective on Soil Health” describes the four necessary components of healthy soil: water (25%), air (25...

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