Part of "Soil Basics"
Covering the soil with plants called "cover crops" helps you from losing your topsoil to wind, sun and erosion, encourages beneficial organisms and adds nutrients into the soil.
A cover crop is grown for more for the benefit of your soil and less for your direct consumption. When planned well, cover crops shield the soil from sun and water loss, block out weeds, create forage for livestock and, most importantly, add aliveness to your soil.
Use of cover crops can improve soil physical properties in just one growing season!
As you will learn in this segment, the greatest value of cover crops is that they add organic matter to the soil. Some cover crops also add nitrogen in a slow-release way that plants can handle, leading to less nitrogen wastage. Cover crops can also act as mulches if managed correctly. They attract beneficial insects and pollinators to your garden, resulting in better harvest yields.
Cover crops can be seeded in just one bed, or they can be grown in entire sections of your garden. In short, they can be planted wherever there is naked soil or space.
The species of cover crop selected, along with its management, determine the benefits and returns in cropping systems.
Start this segment by exploring the Database of Cover Crops & Green Manures from UN Mānoa CTAHR and move to an article from Hānai‘Ai with its cover crop selection tool.
> Back to Course 3: Soil Basics