Last weekend I planted Nitro Persian Clover for a cover crop in two of my vegetable beds. The first bed was where I grew corn and summer squash. The second bed contained potatoes, garlic and shallots.
Cover crops are a great way to replace the nutrients lost from your vegetable gardening. They also protect the soil from the elements, weeds, erosion and structure damage.
Clover is a legume, so it will add nitrogen to the soil. According to the seller, Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply, this variety will fix approximate 200 lbs of nitrogen per acre. It will also reseed itself, which is good, since it’s a great plant to interplant with the rest of my garden vegetable plants. It also has a fragrant flower that bees love. It tolerates poor soil and will be okay with mowing, if it gets too tall & unwieldy at 2′.
It’s getting down to the low 40’s at night and about 60-80 during the days right now, and it’s germinating well. I’m having to water it quite a bit, since i didn’t want to cover it with straw. I’m going to be turning this directly into the soil before spring’s planting, so i didn’t want a bunch of dried straw in that mix. I think the rains will come next week, or so, to keep it happy, but it only needs 8″-10″ of rain per year.
Last week I cut down all of the clover that I was using as a cover crop for this year’s tomato plot. I then turned it under, first using a shovel & some sweat…then I went out and bought a sweet little cultivator. The Honda FG110 works great. The soil looks amazing. I will be testing the soil today and then again in 2 weeks to see if the available nitrogen has increased.
Next year I won’t let the clover get as tall as I did this year. I will whack it down mid way through the season, without killing it. The tall stems were a little too fibrous for the weed whacker and then got bound up in the cultivator.
As far as interplanting goes, i think i will only plant the clover after the main crop is completely established. It was way too much competition for the lettuces & greens that I interplanted with it.