By Brad Ross
Cover crops and the benefits they provide to the soil have long been associated with cropland grain production. But they can be equally helpful to the casual gardener by building soil tilth, adding organic matter and nutrients to the soil, and preventing erosion. Thirty years ago, when my children were little and I was trying to grow a green thumb, I experimented with growing a rye cover crop to help put more organic matter in a very poor garden site. Over several years, I had mixed results due to my inexperience and lack of knowledge of when to plant and how to terminate the cover crop. There was not a lot of information available about using cover crops in a garden and so it was largely trial and error.
If you are a gardener interested in learning more about the use of cover crops in your garden, there is an opportunity for you to gain from others’ knowledge. The Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the OSU Extension-Delaware County is sponsoring the “Cover Crops for Gardens” workshop on June 4th at 7pm at the home of John Miller, 2922 Berlin Station Rd., Delaware, OH.
One of the featured speakers, Jay Brandt from Walnut Creek Seeds, will discuss what and when to plant, and how to terminate the cover crop before planting your garden. Dona Rhea, Delaware SWCD Education Specialist, will review soil fertility, compare soil improvements with and without cover crops, and demonstrate how to correctly pull soil samples for soil tests.
John Miller, Delaware SWCD board member and host for the workshop, will give a walking tour of his gardens and show at least six different cover crop varieties that he has grown. Several OSU Extension Master Gardeners will share their experiences with different types of cover crops they use, how cover crops have benefitted their gardens, and the methods they use to terminate the cover crop before planting their garden. Eliezer Ortiz-Barbosa, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, will be on hand to discuss using high tunnels, or hoop houses in garden production. He will also discuss potential funding sources for purchasing and constructing a high tunnel.
Each participant of this workshop will receive a free soil test kit to use on their garden soil. Soil sample analysis will be handled by OSU Extension Delaware County. The workshop is free to the public; however, registration is required so adequate soil test kits will be available. Please RSVP to the Delaware SWCD at 740-368-1921 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on a variety of conservation practices, program and services can be found at www.delawareswcd.org and facebook.com/DelawareSWCD.
Brad Ross is a Communications Specialist for Delaware SWCD.