Have you considered growing a winter cover crop? If so, now is the time to pull those dwindling warm season annuals out of your beds and start seeding. Cover crops can be very beneficial to an organic grower in a variety of ways: they provide year-round habitat for beneficial insects, added nutrients back to the soil when incorporated in the spring (green manure) & they keep those empty beds from becoming overgrown with weeds!

“Winter cover crops will not take any space out of production and should only be used in beds that will be planted with warm season crops. Ideally they should be seeded between August and early October, depending on location. If the cover crop is planted late the seedling rate should be increased. Most crops need about 30-40 days to germinate and grow before a frost.” -Marion Murray, USU Extension IPM Project Leader.

Winter Annual Cover Crops to consider

  • Hairy Vetch
  • Winter Wheat
  • Winter Rye
  • Red Clover
  • Austrian Winter Pea
  • Pacific gold Mustard
  • Forage Radish

For more information on seeding, managing and irrigating cover crops see these resources from USU Extension.

USU Fact sheet “Cover Crops for Utah Gardens”
USU Fact sheet “Using Winter Grain as a Cover Crop in the Home Garden”
2012 Utah Pests Newsletter “Winter Cover Crops for Plant & Soil Health”
USU Extension Book “A Guide to Common Organic Gardening Questions”