What are cover crops?

A cover crop is a unique type of ground cover. It has living roots in the soil during autumn and winter when other plants have died back for the season. In late spring and summer, it rots into the soil underneath the trees to increase the organic matter.

At Wildergarden we have used winter cereal rye. (See photos). It is astonishing to see the amount of green biomass that grows and decomposes into the soil.

Our cover cropping activity is experimental. We believe there are benefits for native forest restoration.

Small cement pathway leading to the street in front of WIldergarden that is surrounded on both sides by tall, slender stalks of Winter Cereal Rye.

Annual Winter Cereal Rye cover crop

What cover crops do we use at Wildergarden?

The winter cereal rye seeds are scattered on the soil in autumn and usually germinate soon after. The rye plants form flat ground cover during the winter. When spring brings warm weather, they suddenly grow vertically and become tall. This is a stewardship challenge, as the cover crop must be timed so it doesn’t block the re-growth of native herbaceous plants in the spring.