Cover Crops for Home Gardens West of the Cascades

Cover Crops for Home Gardens West of the Cascades

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Craig Cogger, Extension Soil Specialist, WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Chris Benedict, Regional Extension Specialist, WSU Whatcom County Specialist, Nick Andrews, Metro-Area Small Farms Extension Agent, OSU North Willamette Research and Extension Center, Andy McGuire, Regional Extension Specialist, WSU Grant County Extension
This WSU fact sheet is one of a three-part series on cover crops for home gardeners. It focuses on choosing the best cover crops for gardens in Washington and Oregon, west of the Cascades. Other topics discussed in this fact sheet include what cover crops are, why grow them, and how to plan for them. Tables with information on the rates and dates for planting summer and winter cover crops are also presented. This series also includes fact sheets on Cover Crops for Home Gardens East of the Cascades and Methods for Successful Cover Crop Management in Your Home Garden.
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  • Develop a plan well before you plant cover crops. This plan should include decisions on how to termiĀ­nate the cover crops and what crops will follow.
  • Start with a cover crop that is easy to grow and manage. For example, crimson clover does not produce excessive plant material and is easy to incorporate back into the soil. A rye-vetch mixture is quite reliable, but be prepared to terminate it in the spring before it gets too mature.
  • Plant your cover crop in a smaller area of your garden, so the results can be compared to the rest of the garden.
  • Try another cover crop that fits in a different niche of your garden plan after you have successfully used one cover crop. Then, when you gain experience, you can experiment with other cover crops, both those listed here and others that might work well in your garden.

For more information on planting, managing, and termiĀ­nating cover crops (e.g., organic matter, nitrogen, runoff protection, weed suppression, etc.) refer to the third fact sheet in this series, WSU Extension publication FS119E Methods for Successful Cover Crop Management in Your Home Garden.



Cogger, C., C. Benedict, N. Andrews, S. Fransen, and A. McGuire. 2014. Cover Crops for Home Gardens East of the Cascades. Washington State University Extension Publication FS117E.

Cogger, C., C. Benedict, and N. Andrews. 2014. Methods for Successful Cover Crop Management in Your Home Garden. Washington State University Extension Publication FS119E.

USDA-NIFA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. Managing Cover Crops Properly, 3rd ed. 2007. College Park: University of Maryland.


Copyright 2014 Washington State University

Published Febuary, 2014

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