Cover Crops are widely used by Natural Farmers. Ground Covers and Cover Crops help to reduce weeds, protect soil life from light and heat, reduce water loss, encourage bio-diversity, and send roots into the soil which improve its structure and provide nutrition for microorganisms. Some American indigenous cultures think of the earth as our mother and ensure that she is modestly covered and not left exposed. It is a powerful analogy.
Green Manure Crops are used within the Vegetable Patch. Seeds are planted and allowed to grow right up to the flowering stage before being returned to the soil. Many vegetable gardeners will dig the crop into the soil, but most Natural Gardeners prefer a “No-Dig” approach and simply “Chop and Drop” the plant material onto the soil surface. This approach has benefits as it retains the roots within the soil and as they decay they create pathways for soil life, water and oxygen. Legumes like beans and peas will help to fix nitrogen into the soil. Other species like oats are good at covering the surface and blocking out weeds, and some plants even have herbal qualities which may assist in managing pathogens.
An alternative Green Carbon option is to re-purpose the weeds in your garden. Chopping and Dropping weeds that have not yet flowered is quite effective. It is also possible to liquidize them and apply the liquid in a diluted form to the soil. Another option is to grow your Green Manure crop as sprouts. A recipe for Sprouted Seed Tea is contained in the Fertiliser & Bio-Nutrients section.