green-blue oat grass with oats maturing

Illinois vegetable growers are entering the toughest six weeks of the year. Despite the seasonal demands, soil health depends on timely planning of a fall cover crop.

A fall cover crop is planted in August, grows in fall, and terminates after several hard frosts in winter.

Why plant a fall cover crop? The benefits of a cover crop include increased soil fertility, enhanced weed suppression, and increased soil organic matter. Regardless of farm size, a fall cover crop will positively impact any vegetable operation.

Like it or not, fall and winter will be here before we know it! During the off-season, too many gardeners leave their vegetable or flower gardens bare over winter. This can cause major problems for the following growing season, especially an invasion of winter weeds and erosion of high-quality topsoil to boot. Beat the weeds and hang on to your soil this fall, winter and spring by planting a cover crop, or at least putting down some straw. 

Oats, Outi Mähönen, via Unsplash

Do you struggle with weed control in the spring before planting your summer garden? Does your garden lose topsoil after a heavy rain due to slope? Would you like to improve soil structure and add organic matter to your garden?

Backyard cover cropping is for you!