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Planting Cover Crops in Your Garden

Suzanne O'Connell / Iowa Gardener Magazine

Planting a cover crop in your garden sounds like a wonderful idea, but for some of us, making it happen might be an unfamiliar challenge.

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, Iowa State University Extension Organic Specialist Kathleen Delate joins host Charity Nebbe to talk cover crops for the garden and to give a preview of the 2018 Iowa Organic Conference. Later in the hour, Iowa State University Extension Horticulture Specialist Richard Jauron joins to answer listener questions.

This year the 18th annual Iowa Organic Conference will be held November 18-19 at the University of Iowa Memorial Union. 

"This year we're focusing on soils," Delate says. "Our keynote speaker will be Dr. David Montgomery, the author of the famous book Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations."

To keep Iowa's reknowned soil packed with nutrients, home gardeners and farmers alike can use cover crops to enrich their garden, particularly over winter.

"Cover crops help break cycles of weeds, insects, and diseases," Delate says. 

When spring arrives, these crops can be tilled under before planting to enrich the soil even further. Legumes are a great cover crop for adding nitrogen to the soil, but Delate says that rye is the most common option for Iowa gardeners looking for a hardier choice when cold weather hits. 

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