Keep the soil covered with plants and organic materials. Covering the soil with plants encourages biological diversity, living roots, minimizing disturbance, and nutrient cycling in the soil. Organic materials (like mulch, small tree debris, or decomposing leaves) can also add nutrients to the soil while protecting it from the elements.
This school garden's raised beds are surrounded by tree mulch to help make a clear pathway and keep the soil in place. Did you know cover crops can be planted in raised beds, too? Learn about different cover crops that thrive in different zones and spaces in the resources below.
Dig In (But Minimize Disturbance!)
Cover Crops, September 2015, Vol.1 No. 9, Piedmont Master Gardeners article by Cleve Campbell
Cool Season Cover Crops for Better Soil, September 5, 2019, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District article by Willie Woode, Senior Conservation Specialist
Soil Health and Cover Crops, Virginia Cooperative Extension
Cover Crops in Raised Beds, Clemson Cooperative Extension
Managing Cover Crops Profitably, Third Edition, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
Practices of Organic Farming: Cover Crops, The Edible Schoolyard Project
Sustainable Chesapeake created a video series on "Reducing Input Costs with Cover Crops: Virginia Farmers Talk about Benefits of Cover Cropping Systems," funded by the sale of “Friend of the Bay” license plates. The series include:
About the Blog
Join the movement! 4 The Soil is a campaign by the Virginia Soil Health Coalition to raise awareness of soil as an agricultural and natural resource. By caring for the soil, we can build healthier communities, stronger economies, and a more resilient landscape.