Early Spring Cover Crops

Early Spring Cover Crops

In my area of Michigan, I noticed that the crocus' are finally in bloom! This is exciting news because it means that Spring is just around the corner and that it is time to start thinking about planting a Spring cover crop in my dahlia beds. 


In this blog post, I'm going to "cover" these topics: (pun intended) 

  1. Why Plant Cover Crops? 
  2. When to start Cover Crops
  3. What Cover Crops to plant


Why Cover Crops? 

When soil is left unprotected during the off-season, it is more likely to suffer from erosion, nutrient depletion, and weed growth. This can lead to reduced crop yields and increased reliance on costly synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Planting cover crops has many benefits for both farmers and the environment. The roots of cover crops help retain nutrients in the soil, prevent soil erosion, improve soil structure, and suppress weeds. Overall, cover crops are a sustainable and effective way to promote healthy soil for your Dahlias. 


When to start Cover Crops

I am in zone 6a and I don't plant cover crops in the winter, because I generally leave my dahlia tubers in the ground until after the first frost. 

I start cover crops in the spring, and I watch for nature signs to tell me when to plant. This is called Phenology. Phenology is the study of seasonal events in plants and animals. It has many practical applications, from determining when seeds should be planted, to predicting crop harvests. It's amazing how nature can give us so many clues if we just take the time to observe and learn from it. 

What Cover Crops to Plant 

The first Cover Crop I will plant is Radish. In my area the crocus is one of the first signs of Spring and when a Crocus blooms that means you can plant Radish, Parsnips, and Spinach. 

Radish is a popular cover crop to plant because it has a deep taproot that helps break up compacted soil and improve soil structure. When the radish plant dies, the taproot decomposes and leaves behind channels in the soil that allow air and water to move more freely. This is excellent for my clay soil. Radish can also help suppress weeds and nematodes, making it a great choice for improving soil health and preparing for the next growing season.


I choose to plant Daikon Radish which takes 50-70 days from seed to harvest. This means they should be done growing when I am ready to plant my Dahlia tubers. At that time the Radish can be tilled into the soil to decompose, or harvested and put into compost. 


Other cover crop choices in March:

Peas (When Forsythia Blooms) 

Lettuce (When Forsythia Blooms)


If you are in Michigan and would like a month by month garden plan that lays out what to plant and when- I have created one


I order my Daikon Radish seeds from this Etsy seller



Back to blog