Plants growing in healthy soil are more likely to survive, produce a larger harvest and have more resilience to weather extremes. In the Llano Estacado region, an essential step to building soil health is to plant green cover crops that allow beneficial soil organisms to thrive and multiply.
A green cover crop is grown in early spring or later summer, for the primary purpose of improving the soil. These crops benefit your garden while they are growing and green, and also when they are spaded into your garden or raised bed, to build up organic matter and soil texture. Here are just a few ways that green cover crops both protect and enhance your soil:
- Moisture retention: With our arid climate, green cover crops are a great way to maintain soil moisture in your garden without constant watering.
- Erosion prevention: A green cover crop acts as a tight canopy of sorts to keep soil contained and able to withstand strong winds.
- Soil makeup: Green cover crops produce substances that actually add nutrients to the soil and help improve tilth. Their roots and organic matter aerate tight soil to receive more oxygen and water.
- Protection from weeds: Because a green cover crop grows into a living canopy, it will shade and block out weeds.
- Protection from pests: Some green cover crops attract beneficial insects that prey on pests.
If you are a gardener in the Llano Estacado region, consider planting some green cover crops like buckwheat, turnips, tillage radishes, mustard, or rye to help enhance your garden area.
You can find helpful information by reading the following articles: