Zone 6a Winter Ground Cover Selection

jeffmillsJuly 7, 2014

First time posting so please forgive me if this is in the wrong spot.

I'm searching for a good winter ground cover for my 50' x 100' summer garden. I only use this garden to grow tenders and sow/transplant 2 weeks or so after the last frost in early spring. There are several problems I would like to work on addressing.

1) Nitrogen - had the soil tested all is ok besides low on nitrogen - The garden sits in the middle of wild grass and flower meadow that gets mowed and bailed for hay twice a year for livestock.

2) Erosion - it also sits in between two hills West and East sides. And the south side is higher than the north side which is where a small creek is, no more that 100 ft away. I have a good trench running south to north so the water drains well but in the spring the north side is very wet and is the last part I can work. Although corn and cukes seem to love it down there...

3) Weed control - it's sitting the the middle of a meadow, weeding is a big chore mainly crabgrass... I can pull the black eyed susans and wild marigolds up before they get to big. But I would like some ground cover that would choke out the weeds if possible.

What I would like to do is... in the spring run my tiller where I would plant a row, wait a few days and plant that row. I would like to leave the ground cover growing in between the rows until it got tall enough to mow. then I could mow it to make a nice mulch in between the rows. If it grew some more I would just whack it back down and leave it lay as mulch

I was thinking I may be able to do all this with early fall planting of alfalfa but then again I'm not so sure.

I know this is a lot to ask from a ground cover... and most likely will be a on going struggle for many years to come... However, your thoughts/recommendations would be most appreciated.

Thanks

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gardengal48

What you are looking for is a cover crop rather than a groundcover - two different sets of plants grown for two different sets of purposes :-))

There are many different types of cover crops available and pretty much any of them will return nutrients to the soil, protect against erosion and suppress weeds. What may work best for you may depend on where you are located - some are better in some areas than others, depending on winter temps.

Cornell University has a pretty good summation on types of cover crops and how they are best used. My personal choice is a mixed blend that includes Austrian field peas, crimson clover, hairy vetch and annual and winter rye. Pretty much covers the gamut of what is needed and what is provided. Planted in mid-fall after harvest) and allowed to grow until early the following season.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 6:29PM
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