Cover crop workshop covers how to protect and improve your soil

gardeners raking cover crops
Apprentices at the UCSC Farm prepare beds for cover crops. A young cover crop of bell beans, vetch and oat grass sprouts in the foreground. (Photo by Abby Huetter)

Gardeners, don’t put away your spade and fork just yet Fall is the time to plant cover crops, and master gardener Orin Martin will show you how at an upcoming workshop at UC Santa Cruz’s Alan Chadwick Garden.

On Saturday, October 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Martin will share his enthusiasm for these soil-building crops at a workshop on “Choosing and Using Cover Crops in the Home Garden and Orchard.”

Cover crops, often referred to as “green manures,” are crops such as bell beans and oat grass that are planted in the fall and grown over the winter, then either worked into the soil in the spring to decompose before spring and summer planting, or harvested for compost.

Martin will discuss the cover crop species best suited to the Central Coast, along with how much seed you’ll need for your garden or tree crops, and how best to time cover crop plantings in the fall and “plough downs” in the spring. Workshop participants will get a chance to practice planting cover crops in the garden beds and orchards at the Chadwick Garden. 

Cost of the cover crop workshop is $30 for the general public, $20 for Friends of the Farm & Garden members, and $5 for UCSC students. Memberships are available at the workshop. Register online at, or pay at the door with cash or check.

For more information, call 831-459-3240 or email

The main entrance to the Alan Chadwick Garden is located on McLaughlin Drive across from Stevenson College, where free parking will be available in the Stevenson College parking lot.

The event is sponsored by the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden, and the UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems. For more information or questions about access, call (831) 459-3240, email, or see