By Botanical Interests Seeds
There are numerous reasons to choose cover crops as part of a healthy garden. It seems that for most any problem, there is a cover crop solution. Try one and you’ll notice over time how much better your garden performs with less inputs of extra water, fertilizer, and insecticide. Cover crops are the natural choice for a naturally better garden.
Cover crops, also known as green manures, are one of the cornerstones of sustainable agriculture. Weeding, harvesting, and even foot traffic can degenerate the soil of a home garden. Utilizing cover crops, such as fast-growing grains, legumes, and grasses, can improve the soil, suppress weeds, and aid in controlling pests.
Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum) is offered by Geo Growers this year. Like other clovers, crimson clover fixes nitrogen but it’s faster growing for quick benefits to your garden. Since it grows best in cool weather, crimson clover is sown as a spring or fall cover crop.
If the soil in your garden requires a little extra attention, sow crimson clover in the fall (six weeks before your average first frost). To sow, create a loose seedbed and spread the seed over the area. Gently rake the seeds into the soil so they are covered. This will ensure full contact with the soil and protect the seeds from hungry birds. You can till the crimson clover into the soil at any stage of growth but be sure to cut or mow it before seeds begin to form-just after flowering. In all but the warmest climates, the plant will be winter killed so you can also wait until the next spring to till it into the soil. Crimson clover not only adds nitrogen to the soil, which improves fertility for next year’s garden, but it also attracts beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and bees.
Don’t throw those flowers away, though. Make crimson clover tea! Pour boiling water over 1-2 tablespoons of dried flowers. Steep for about 10 minutes and serve either hot or cold over ice. If you like your tea sweet, add a splash of clover honey.