On a farm, cover crops usually play supportive roles at best. Unglamorous crops like clover and vetch never get the shiny magazine spreads reserved for trendy heirloom tomatoes or the newest hydrangea cultivar. They just quietly hold down the soil, fix nitrogen, provide food for the pollinators and create biomass to enrich the soil. It sounds like enough to me for a starring role, but cover crops are almost always considered second fiddle to the crops.
But right now, the cover crops are having their moment to shine. The crimson clover is topped with dramatic red blossoms, the vetch is covered in purple flowers and the rye is five feet tall, a lovely blue green color and will sway in the slightest breeze. All the pollinators from miles around are feasting on the flowering vetch and clover and for added drama, all of these crops will be mowed down soon before they go to seed.
The first food crops of the season are a huge treat, but before we turn our attention to the expected spring stars — like radishes, green onions and dozens of kinds of lettuce — let’s give the cover crops their moment in the sun. It is well deserved.
P.S. I have a piece on the Jewish parenting blog Kveller today with Jewish (farming) view of Mother’s Day. Check it out and leave a comment, here and or there. Thanks for reading and happy Mother’s Day.