6 Cover Crops For Your Raised Bed - Backyard Boss
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6 Cover Crops For Your Raised Bed

If you want your raised garden to not only look beautiful but also be a great environment for your plants, you should avoid using too many chemicals. One way to do both of these things is by using cover crops! Cover crops are plants that you can use between seasons. They help improve the soil quality, provide food for wildlife, and provide soil aeration.

You can use many types of cover crops, including legumes, grasses, clovers, and buckwheat. Keep reading for a list of six cover crops for your raised bed garden!

Perennial Clover

Clover (Trifolium pratense) grows in the meadow among wild grasses
Image credits: Orest lyzhechka via Shutterstock

Perennial clovers are one of the most popular cover crops for your raised garden bed. They provide nitrogen to your soil and help control weeds. They also attract pollinators to your garden and will help you get a bountiful harvest every season!

To add clover to your raised bed garden, sow seeds directly into the soil after your harvest. You can plant clover in spring or fall, depending on the climate you live in. Once it’s established, clover requires very little maintenance. Just water regularly and keep an eye out for pests.

Winter Rye

Winter Rye
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Winter rye is grass that grows quickly in cooler temperatures up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Surprisingly, this hardy crop can survive in -30 degrees Fahrenheit although you won’t see much growth

This cover crop produces large amounts of biomass as it grows, which makes it an excellent choice for any garden where rich soil is important. This cover crop helps prevent erosion by protecting the soil from winter winds and rains.

To grow your winter rye, plant it in the fall. You can sow seeds directly into your raised bed garden. Once planted, make sure that the seedlings get plenty of water so they have enough moisture to survive until winter sets in.

Hairy Vetch

Hairy Vetch
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Hairy vetch is a great cover crop for your raised garden bed, as it can survive temperatures above -10 degrees Fahrenheit. As one of the best sources of nitrogen fixation available, hairy vetch helps fertilize your soil naturally. It makes it ideal for adding lots of nutrition to your garden beds, including phosphorus, without relying on chemical fertilizers or compost. It also provides an excellent habitat for beneficial insects.

Another great thing about hairy vetch is that it’s incredibly easy to grow; You can direct seed it into your bed. Just be sure to plant it in well-draining soil and water it frequently until it gets established. Now sit back and watch as this hardy cover crop takes care of itself!

Ryegrass

Ryegrass with Clover Cover Crop
Image credits: Sheryl Watson via Shutterstock

To plant ryegrass in your raised bed garden, start by preparing the soil. Remove any weeds, plants, or rocks from the bed and lightly sow ryegrass seeds over the entire surface. You can use a rake to lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, then water your garden bed well to get them started.

In just a few weeks, you will see ryegrass shoots sprouting up in your raised bed garden. Keep the area watered regularly, and remove any weeds or other uninvited plants that may try to take over the space.

Ryegrass stops soil erosion and can even be used as green manure.

Wheat and Triticale

Triticale
Image credits: Vital Hil via Shutterstock

Wheat and triticale add nutrients to the soil and help keep weeds at bay. They also add some beautiful texture and color to your garden.

To get started, prepare your raised bed by loosening up the soil with a hoe or rake. Then, sow seeds either by hand or with a seed spreader. Continue to water regularly until they sprout.

Austrian Winter Peas

Austrian Winter Peas Cover Crop
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Austrian winter peas are high in nutrients, help improve and build soil quality, and grow fast. Additionally, they have pretty purple flowers that look beautiful in the garden.

To plant Austrian winter peas, till or dig up an area of your raised bed garden. Then, scatter the pea seeds across the surface of your prepared bed and lightly cover them with soil. Water them regularly and watch as they grow quickly into a lush carpet that helps protect your garden from pests and weeds.

In Summary

Cover crops are an important part of organic gardening. You can use them in raised garden beds to improve soil quality and protect against pests. Remarkably, there are many types of cover crops, so choose the right one for your specific garden needs. The above list of six cover crops would be great for your next project! 

Make sure to share this article with your friends and family. And leave a comment below about which cover crop you decide to use in your garden.

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