Choosing a spring cover crop

Q: We have a very large vegetable garden every year and want to plant a spring cover crop to be tilled in before planting this year. We are in northwestern Indiana and were considering Red Clover with Austrian peas.

Can we plant now and till in June? Then do a winter cover crop this fall? Any Information would be appreciated.

Yes, cover crops are wonderful for fixing nitrogen and adding texture and organic matter to our gardens. Trifolium pratense (Red Clover) and Austrian peas are both good choices and can both be tilled in.

I would suggest a fall sowing for a winter cover, then till in spring. Sow your clover or Austrian peas as soon as you harvest your garden.

I find a spring cover crop is too rushed, not enough time to grow, dig, breakdown and replant our summer garden. Instead dig in compost or leaf mold to improve soil.

Another cover crop choice is fall rye, one of my favourites.

I would suggest choosing a new crop each fall, they all have different benefits, but don’t necessarily grow at the same rate or amongst each other. A site with good cover crop seeds and information is