Last week we traveled to Ohio to visit family and friends. That meant that two weeks ago I was madly planting all my trays of seedlings and hoping we’d get rain while we were gone. Even though our last frost date wasn’t past, I had to plant my tomatoes and peppers. The area I’m using for them this year is a second season bed. Pigs worked up the soil two summers ago and last summer I planted it in a variety of cover crops. This spring I seeded it with mustard to fumigate the soil in preparation for nightshade crops.
The mustard was only a few inches tall when I planted my tomatoes and peppers, so I just pulled up a small circle and planted the tomatoes directly into the cover crop.
When I arrived home, the mustard had grown and was starting to flower, most of it was about a foot tall. The tomatoes and peppers were still growing slowly inside their sheltered growing areas. The mustard would have given them a small amount of protection from a late frost if we had had one.
Yesterday I pulled the mustard and simply laid it around the tomatoes and peppers as a mulch. When it dries I’ll cover it with a layer of compost which will protect the soil, feed the crops throughout the summer, and maintain moisture throughout the heat of summer. The mustard is said to help fumigate the soil of pathogens, particularly those that affect nightshade crops. I also seeded it in the area that I will be planting my potatoes. I’ve been doing this for years and it seems to be working well for me. Mustard it probably my favorite cover crop, I use it all the time.
What’s your favorite cover crop?Filed under Around the Garden | Comment (1)