What kind of ground cover crop should I plant?

Mustard cover crop in a garden
Photo credit: Susy Morris
Q:

I have a small garden plot that I have let go fallow over the summer, but would like to plant something to keep the weeds down until next year. Most of the cover crops I read about look a lot like the invasive weeds I'm always pulling! What should I plant that can be easily tilled into the soil for planting next spring?

- Linn County
A:

OSU Extension has some wonderful publications on using cover crops for weed management and soil building. Check out Cover Crops for Home Gardens. It describes the attributes and planting times for many different plants used as cover crops. You can usually find packaged blends or bulk seed at garden or farm stores. Make sure to remove and/or till under the cover crop early enough in the spring so the root system has time to break down before you plant your garden.

Two WSU Extension publications with photos and even more information (and that are co-authored by an OSU researcher so apply to our area!) are Cover Crops for Home Gardens West of the Cascades and Methods for Successful Cover Crop Management in Your Home Garden.

Good luck and thanks for using Ask An Expert!

Brooke Edmunds
Extension Community Horticulturalist
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